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Government Communications Security Bureau
GCSB logo.png
Logo of the Government Communications Security Bureau
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Intelligence gathering for the security of New Zealand
Headquarters Freyberg Building, Aitken Street, Wellington
41°16′37″S 174°46′45″E / 41.277033°S 174.779156°E / -41.277033; 174.779156
Minister responsible John Key, Prime Minister
Agency executive Sir Bruce Ferguson, Director General
Website
http://gcsb.govt.nz/
The Waihopai Valley Government Communications Security Bureau base

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) is an intelligence agency of the New Zealand government.

The mission statement is given as:

To contribute to the national security of New Zealand through:

  • providing foreign signals intelligence to support and inform Government decision making;
  • providing an all-hours foreign intelligence watch and warning service to Government;
  • ensuring the integrity, availability and confidentiality of official information through information systems security services to Government; and
  • assisting in the protection of the national critical infrastructure from information-borne threats.

Contents

Operations

The functions of the GCSB include signals intelligence, communications security, anti-bugging measures, and computer security.

For the purposes of its signals intelligence activities, the GCSB maintains two "listening stations"; a satellite communications interception station at Waihopai and a radio communications interception station at Tangimoana. The Waihopai station has been operating since 1989, and was expanded with the construction of a second interception dish in 1998. The Tangimoana station was opened in 1982, replacing an earlier facility at Irirangi, near Waiouru.

The GCSB does not publicly disclose the nature of the communications which it intercepts. It is frequently described by some authors, such as Nicky Hager, as part of ECHELON. In 2006, after the death of former Prime Minister David Lange, a 1985–86 report given to Lange was found among his papers,[1] having been mistakenly released. The report listed a number of countries as targets of GCSB efforts, including Japan, the Philippines, Argentina, France, Vietnam, and many small Pacific island states. It also mentioned United Nations diplomatic traffic. In his book on the GCSB, Nicky Hager says that during the Cold War, the locations and activities of Soviet ships (including civilian craft such as fishing trawlers) were a major focus of the organisation's activities.

History

The Government Communications Security Bureau was created in 1977 on the instructions of Robert Muldoon, the Prime Minister. Prior to this, the functions now handled by the GCSB were split between three different organisations:

  • Communications security was the responsibility of the Communications Security Committee, based around the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Signals intelligence was the responsibility of the Combined Signals Organisation, run by the military.
  • Anti-bugging measures were the responsibility of the Security Intelligence Service.

Upon its establishment, the GCSB assumed responsibility for these three roles. Officially, the new organisation was part of the Ministry of Defence, and its functions and activities were highly secret – even Cabinet was not informed. In the 1980s, however, information was gradually released, first about the GCSB's security role, and then about its signals intelligence operations.

One of the domes collapsed at GCSB's Waihopai Spy Base after the 2008 Ploughshares attack

Also in the 1980s, the GCSB was split away from the Ministry of Defence, becoming a separate organisation. It was not until 2000, however, that it was decided to make the GCSB a government department in its own right. This decision was implemented through the Government Communications Security Bureau Act of 2003.

In 2001, the Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection was formed within the GCSB with a mandate to assist in the protection of national critical infrastructure from information borne threats.

On 30 April 2008 one of the domes of the Waihopai Spy Base was attacked with sickles by activists causing an estimated NZ$1 million damage.[2] The activists readily admitted the attack in court but were found not guilty.

Organisation

The GCSB is considered to be a government department in its own right. The GCSB reports to the Minister holding the Intelligence portfolio, who, by convention, is always the Prime Minister. Internally, it is split into five divisions:

  • Collection and processing of intelligence
  • Distribution of intelligence to those needing it
  • IT security
  • Technology
  • Administration
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Director

The GCSB is administered by a Director. There have been four directors to date:

Thus far, all directors of the GCSB have had a military career before joining the organisation – Hanson, Parker, and Ferguson were all Air Force officers (the latter serving as Chief of Defence), and Tucker was an Army officer.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Lange papers reveal US spy threats". The New Zealand Herald. 15 January 2006.
  2. ^ "Police consider fresh charges against spy base attackers". The New Zealand Herald. 30 April 2008.
  • Hager, Nicky (1996). Secret Power: New Zealand's Role in the International Spy Network. Nelson, NZ: Craig Potton Publishing. ISBN 0-908802-35-8. (online edition)

External links


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