Reading tweets is not spying

Stuff reports:

Gregory Hussey is wondering if “spooks” are monitoring him on social media after the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) demanded he remove a tweet just 20 minutes after he wrote it.

The Timaru man was working for a private company in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province at the time and had only eight Twitter followers – two of them journalists.

Hussey said a friend, also in Bamiyan, contacted him on August 19, 2012, to tell him there was a gunfight happening 2km away and “not to go up there to the valley on your motorbike”.

Hussey tweeted : “Poor Kiwis under fire in Bamiyan :-(“.

Just 20 minutes later he was contacted by a member of the NZDF, told to remove the tweet and instructed to attend a meeting immediately at the NZDF base in Bamiyan where he was told he was a “security risk”.

A defence force officer had contacted one of Hussey’s friends in New Zealand, asked for his number and phoned him with instructions to remove the tweet.

“I was told that there would be widespread panic from the families of soldiers back in New Zealand if it got out,” Hussey said.

“I thought that was entirely reasonable, I don’t want the families of service people needlessly distressed, and I took the tweet down and apologised.”

So this happened a year ago. So why is it news now?

Yesterday, a NZDF spokesman denied Hussey’s communications had been monitored.

Jesus Christ, it was a tweet! They are public. Are we not getting a bit precious now when we do news stories about NZDF responding to a tweet, as if that is a bad thing?

The NZDF spokesman said over the Hussey incident: “Twitter is a public forum and any member of the public is able to see information posted there.

“This is how NZDF was made aware of Hussey’s tweet – not through any monitoring of him or his communications, as he suggests.

As to how they discovered the tweet, well has anyone heard of “search”. You can set up searches that update you with tweets mentioning particular words. I imagine Bamiyan was a search term they use.

Hussey said he had forgotten about the incident until recently with the GCSB in the news.

“Now I’m wondering if what they did to me was legal,” Hussey said.

OMG, it was a fucking tweet. Of course it was legal. This story is beyond a beat-up.

I’ve sometimes had Government Departments contact me after I blog something about them. This is an outrage – the Government is monitoring me. Is it legal for government departments to read my blog?

Comments (74)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment