Error led to spy agency interception of Megaupload communications

One of New Zealand's intelligence agencies can spy on foreign nationals, but not permanent residents

One of New Zealand's intelligence agencies spied on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom after it was given erroneous information on his immigration status, believing he was a foreign national.

A memorandum filed with Auckland's High Court by the Crown Law Office, released on Tuesday by the court, explained the mixup that caused New Zealand prime minister John Key to express "disappointment that unlawful acts had taken place."

Key called for an inquiry on Monday on why the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which handles signals intelligence, intercepted communications prior to the arrest of Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues in January.

The Sept. 24 memorandum said the New Zealand's Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) sought the assistance of the GCSB in order to conduct simultaneous arrests.

The GCSB is allowed to give that kind of assistance, but only if the people targeted are foreign nationals, the memorandum said. Two of the four people arrested, Dotcom and Bram Van Der Kolk, are permanent residents of New Zealand. The GCSB's spying occurred between Dec. 16 and Jan. 20, the day Dotcom's mansion outside of Auckland was raided.

Finn Batato and Mathias Ortmann, also Megaupload defendants, were named in the memorandum but were not listed as having permanent resident status. Auckland's High Court is scheduled to address the latest surveillance issue on Wednesday.

The illegal surveillance issue adds to a list of missteps in the Megaupload case, including the use of overly broad search warrants to search Dotcom's house and the shipping of some evidence to the U.S.

Dotcom and his colleagues are sought by the U.S. on charges of criminal copyright violations and fraud for running Megaupload, a file-sharing site that U.S. prosecutors say rewarded users for trading files without permission of copyright holders. The U.S. Department of Justice alleges Megaupload collected US$175 million in criminal proceeds.

Extradition hearings are expected to begin in March.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?