2016 IGIS Annual Report

The 2016 annual report of the is here. Some details:

  • the NZSIS has effectively implemented the recommendations made in my provisional findings in new warrant applications of the same kind
  • Inquiry into Tim Groser WTO bid – I expect to complete a public report shortly
  • Inquiry into knowledge of CIA interrogation activities –  I hope to be able to report publicly by late 2016/early 2017.
  • Inquiry into GCSB surveillance in South Pacific –  I will be able to release a public report in December 2016.
  • During the reporting year my office reviewed 15 interception warrants and 30 access authorisations issued under s 15A of the GCSB Act during the year.
  • Several Director’s authorisations which were signed off by the Director during the reporting year did not come to my attention until after 30 June. I will report on my review of those authorisations in the next annual report. I have discussed with the Bureau the need for prompt notification to my office of any future Director’s authorisations.
  • Reviewed the 39 domestic intelligence and 18 foreign intelligence warrants issued during the reporting period under s 4A of the NZSIS Act.
  • the Director notified me that she had issued an authorisation for urgent surveillance without a warrant under s 4ID(1) of the NZSIS Act.
  • Two investigations related to cybersecurity activities and each involved collection of data beyond the scope of the intended activity and corresponding authorisation. The collection of excess data was unintentional and arose from technical attributes of the collection process: the excess data was isolated and deleted and steps taken to prevent recurrence.
  • Overall, I certify that the Bureau has sound compliance procedures and systems in place.
  • In early 2015 I raised a serious issue about whether certain NZSIS activity was lawful and, if not, how that was to be remedied. I raised the issue with the Director in June 2015 and provided the Director with detailed provisional findings on my view of the legality of the activity in August 2015. The NZSIS provided its first substantive response to the questions raised in March-April 2016 …  the time taken to engage with and resolve this significant issue is in itself a matter of concern.
  • Overall, I conclude that some further work is required before I can assess NZSIS’s compliance procedures and systems as sound, but on the basis of the considerable progress made in this reporting year and the clear commitment of the organisation to maintain that momentum, I hope to be able to do so in my next annual report.

Overall the Inspector-General appears to be doing excellent work in monitoring the intelligence agencies and ensuring their compliance is up to scratch. There is obviously still work to be done, but it is pleasing that we get such a detailed (40 page) report. In previous years (pre 2009) the IGIS annual report was a sparse three to five pages.