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New questions raised over Kim Dotcom snooping

Reports ‘ping’ Kiwi spy agency for spying on Dotcom's Modern Warfare sessions

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The slow-motion train wreck of the Megaupload investigation rumbles on, with a new report alleging Kim Dotcom’s Internet connection showed signs of interference earlier than New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau had admitted.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom’s ping times were under investigation by his ISP, Gen-I, as far back as November 2011. The GCSB has only admitted to tapping his connections between December and Dotcom’s arrest in January. In September, prime minister Key apologised1 for the illegal wiretaps.

The Herald report states that Dotcom’s Modern Warfare 3 ping went from 30 milliseconds to 180 milliseconds in November 2011, and a traceroute found three extra hops within New Zealand added to his path to the XBox server Dotcom used to play the game.

Dotcom was proud of his worldwide number-one ranking on the game, something which can at least in part be attributed to the fibre connection he installed to the mansion he occupied at Coatesville, near Auckland.

The internal GCSB investigation sparked by the illegal Dotcom taps revealed at least three other cases in which illegal snooping may have taken place.

Although the PM says the GCSB has given a fresh assurance that there was no spying on Dotcom prior to December, the allegation will shake any trust New Zealanders have in its spy agency, and both Labor and the Greens are calling for an independent inquiry into the agency.

It’s quite possible, of course, that the routing issues investigated by Gen-I had nothing to do with spying; however, if the GCSB was responsible for the extra 150 ms ping and three new route hops – both easily visible to the end user – the revelation would call into question not only its honesty, but its competence. ®

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