Flashback Interview Transcript: Chris Yong On #GCSB

FLASHBACK INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT:

Suzie Dawson (@endarken) interviews @chrisyong for @OccupyNZ

ENDARKEN: Hi Chris, thanks for talking to Occupy New Zealand today. We had a great time at the candidate selection for The Internet Party.

CHRIS YONG: Wasn’t it something else?

ENDARKEN: It was amazing! We thought your speech was really standout because of your references to Snowden, and also to the GCSB movement last year and the way that it inspired you. I’m really interested to know what you think about the Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone statements that came out today, where they mentioned that hundreds of devices can be surveilled by the state due to any one warrant. What impact do you think that has for New Zealanders?

CHRIS YONG: OK, well first of all, we’re talking about warranted searches, but we’re also talking about the fact that it can go two hops wide. In my opinion, that’s just too far. It’s one thing that if there is a legal reason to find out information, and there’s a warrant for it, OK, that can be acceptable and understood. But when you’re going two hops wide, you are going to catch a whole heap of innocent people in this grand spy information gathering network and possibly innocent people can be dragged… well.. they could be connected to something which they don’t even know. Data is all about how you interpret it. When there’s too much data and someone is trying to fit an agenda to that data, it’s just bad news. So, two hops – far too wide, far too much.

ENDARKEN: So what can we do to take back possession of our data in New Zealand? How do we get away from being pigeon-holed into the databases of corporations?

CHRIS YONG: Look, I think… one of the revelations that has come out recently is just, for starters, getting secure in every single device that you use. Find out, all the sites, all the apps, what you can do to protect yourself from that easy level of spying. I mean, obviously there’s the next level again, where they’re suggesting people can go in through the backdoors of these IT companies, and that’s a whole other issue that needs to be looked at. But in the short term, when it comes to the basic things you can do, just use secure connections.

(Cameraman: do we need an explanation on what the two hops is exactly?)

ENDARKEN: Sure! Do you want to tell us about the two hops – I know that it was Keith Alexander of the NSA who first let it be known that was two hops – we assume by default that the GCSB also implements two hops being that we are a member of the “Five Eyes” Echelon network. [CORRECTION: It has been suggested that this was actually first revealed by James Clapper, DNI]

CHRIS YONG: Well, OK, if you think about it, two hops is essentially… another way to think about it is two degrees of separation. Two degrees of separation will cover every single New Zealander in this country. What that effectively means is that if intelligence has targeted one person that they want to look at, they’re going to be able to gather data on every single person, they’re going to be implemented in this particular warrant. That is unnecessary. That is just… it’s, once again, they’re looking for a needle in a haystack and everyone is going to be considered a suspect. You could be completely innocent, I mean hell… two hops, you could hardly now someone, but you’ll be that connection.

ENDARKEN: We know that 88 New Zealanders AT LEAST were illegally spied on by the GCSB, but they won’t confirm who they are. Would you like to see that list of names released, would you like those people to know what happened to them?

CHRIS YONG: Absolutely! I mean look, the fact of the matter was, is that, under the law then, that was illegal OK. And I don’t agree with the change that happened in August of 2013. But the fact of the matter is, they got targeted, they were caught up in something that noone had a right to do. So at the very least, I absolutely think that they should be told about it and then, if we can do it, get a formal apology but at the very least they need to know that they were the target of this mass surveillance that was illegally performed.

ENDARKEN: And it would certainly bring a lot of people a sense of closure to know, exactly what did happen. Thanks so much for talking to us Chris, that’s awesome, we appreciate your time.

CHRIS YONG: You’re welcome.

SOURCE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRgSqghnK9o

FOOTAGE COURTESY OF @OCCUPYNZ, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Internet Party of NZ Crowd-Sources Candidate Selection – Live!

A mainstream TV outlet recently referred to Occupy NZ Media as “cynical protesters”, yet despite our inherent distrust of electioneering and politicking, we are proud to have been present for the crowd-sourced candidate selection event held by the new paradigm political organisation, the Internet Mana Party of New Zealand.

While outlets like NewstalkZB (which we have affectionately renamed ‘Stratfor FM‘) and other establishment media have seemingly morphed into full-time Internet Mana Party disinformation channels virtually overnight, the rest of New Zealand has been eye-witnessing historic moments in Kiwi politics.

20 crowd-sourced candidates that people can actually relate to packed out the Q Theatre on Queen Street yesterday, and we live tweeted the event on @OccupyNZ. The event was also livestreamed nationwide and internationally, and we were pleased to see a sign language interpreter (apparently a Party Member) present on stage throughout, providing a separate stream for the hearing impaired.

Top Kiwi rapper, friend of Occupy NZ and Aotearoa Is Not For Sale MC King Kapisi gave a rousing speech, hyping the crowd and congratulating everyone for caring enough to participate in active efforts at change rather than just zoning out in front of our TV’s watching sports!

One of the most heartening parts of the candidate selection process was seeing real people that all Kiwis would interact with in their daily lives, making it through to the shortlist.

We were blessed with the opportunity to meet candidate Herena Meteka and her lovely daughters, who she says are her “I.T. geniuses”, that finally convinced her to join Twitter only yesterday!

Alongside the neighbourhood Mum and girl/boy-next-door candidates, was a very familiar face – a fellow Occupier!

Last year our #GCSB hashtag-activism quickly spiralled into a broad-spectrum bi-partisan political movement and apparently it has had a major impact on several of the candidates, who raised #GCSB-related state spying as a significant issue facing New Zealanders.

While many of the candidates mentioned #GCSB as an influence, none did moreso than the very humble and very edifying Chris Yong – an accomplished Kiwi musician, DJ and entertainer that is fast approaching Russell Brand levels of awake.

We were extremely psyched that he accepted our spontaneous interview request and he answered our extremely contemporary and unorthodox questions incredibly well.


After the event we were over the moon to get cuddles with old school wahine toa Laila Harre. Recently announced as Internet Party Leader, Laila is a stalwart of Kiwi activism with legendary roots that stretch back decades.

Many were surprised that the Internet Party chose a woman for its leader but we think it is a brilliant strategic move as Laila’s resolve and diverse support base are perfect for shaking the status quo from their stagnation.

Back in October of 2011, prior to the last General Election, an original member of the Occupy Auckland Media Team said –

“With the upcoming General Election, and what I witnessed yesterday, I have very real concerns that this apolitical occupation’s impact risks being diminished, by political factions seeking to further their own agenda. This is not the place for electioneering.

We are the 99%… not the 5% that supports party X, the 15% that supports party Y, or the 40% that supports party Z, but the 99% that makes up our society, from all sorts of cultural, political & spiritual backgrounds.”

 

This is a very true and insightful statement. And it was on that very basis that after the multiple and quite possibly illegal, co-ordinated violence of the “evictions” of Occupiers that we collectively decided to open our media platforms to use by all of the 99%.

We have covered developments about and actions by the Green Party of New Zealand, the Mana Party, the Internet Party, the Pirate Party(s) here and internationally, the Wikileaks Party, and a handful of other minor parties that may or may not have ever reached threshold to formally establish.

Just as we have covered dozens of actions by social justice and environmental organisations including Greenpeace, Global Peace and Justice Aotearoa, Auckland Action Against PovertyKia Ora Gaza, Aotearoa Is Not For Sale, NZEI, MUNZ, and other Labour Unions, and countless more.

We have amplified, brought attention to and given a voice to thousands of Kiwis, some unaffiliated with any organisation, many of whom no mainstream platform would give voice to at all.

The reason we chose to do this is two-fold. Firstly because all of the above are part of the 99% and we do not wish to discriminate or become access gatekeepers to the platforms which we feel the 99% inherently owns.

The second is because we feel that any and all efforts to effect social change and progress in New Zealand, and any and all actions that attempt to regain our independent status and sovereignty, deserve equal support.

In Roshi Joan Halifax’s “This Is What Compassion Looks Like” essay about Occupy Wall Street, she says;

It calls to mind the words that Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy spoke at the 2003 World Social Forum:

‘Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness — and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling — their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.'”

 

Therefore we make ourselves available in solidarity and appeal to every New Zealander to set aside the labels, colours and old paradigms which were constructed expressly to divide us, and to instead embrace the reality; that we are all born into the same mess – one which we cannot fix without each other.

OCCUPY NEW ZEALAND MEDIA TEAM