New Zealand makes us proud, sometimes
The recent assaults on Internet freedom carried out by the U.S. government have brought to light the risks facing the American population's First Amendment rights. Now, it seems as though many individuals are simply balking at the prospect of protesting the National Security Administration's actions and PRISM surveillance program.
Maybe it is out of fear that national security really is contingent upon snooping, or maybe it's simply laziness that is causing the lack of outcry against these procedures. While many other nations, especially those in the first world, are likely guilty of the same projects, New Zealand recently made headlines for its transparency when it comes to Internet freedom violations.
Setting precedence for other nations?
The Associated Press recently reported that the New Zealand government launched an investigation following allegations that its military spied on a freelance reporter who wrote about Afghanistan several years ago. The journalist, Jon Stephenson, was working for the McClatchy news organization, which is based in the United States, at the time of the events in question.
However, the source explained that the case is not as simple as it might appear at first, as the New Zealand government is tied into an international intelligence sharing agreement with the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia. This multilateral agreement was aptly named the Five Eyes when it was launched in 1946.
According to the news provider, the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key noted in a statement that reporters might be watched by other nations in this treaty, though the legality of such actions are still to be determined. Should proof that Stephenson was the subject of a surveillance program come to light, it could complicate relationships among the parties involved.
"The collection of metadata on behalf of the [New Zealand Defense Force] by the U.S. would not be a legitimate practice, when practiced on a New Zealand citizen," New Zealand's Defense Minister, Jonathan Coleman, explained, according to the AP. "It wouldn't be something I would support as the minister, and I'd be very concerned if that had actually been the case."
Will anything come of this?
While it is refreshing to see a country openly engage in conversations about surveillance programs, this story quickly deteriorated into the status quo. Since the allegations were filed, the government has already stated that no substantial evidence would be found in the investigation process.
However, will public outcries begin to increase on a global scale as a result of more widespread Internet freedom violation allegations?