New Zealand appears to be part of and involved in a vast programme to monitor everything people do on the internet, according to documents leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden.
The Guardian newspaper in Britain today revealed documents from US National Security Agency (NSA) training material for the X-Keyscore programme, which the newspaper described as the NSA's widest-reaching system that covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet".
The Guardian has published the 32-page X-Keyscore training document.
Each page carries the line "Top Secret//Comint//Rel to USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL."
This is a reference to the "five eyes" countries, the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand.
Page six is headed "Where is X-Keyscore?" and on a world map shows red dots indicating locations, including one in New Zealand and four in Australia.
Under the map is the caption: "Approximately 150 sites, over 700 servers."
In response to the report, Prime Minister John Key said that he was not aware of any such programme.
"Well I don't talk about our capability but I can honestly say I don't think I've ever heard of that particular programme," he said.
But Labour Party leader David Shearer said that he needs more details about the documents.
"One of the issue people are raising with me is the fact that they are worried about the degree to which their information is being shared, we can only find those issues out if we have an independent inquiry," he said.
Reuters reports that the new revelations from Snowden came as lawmakers put the secret surveillance programmes under greater scrutiny.
Intelligence analysts can conduct surveillance through X-Keyscore by filling in an on-screen form giving only a "broad justification" for the search and no review by a court or NSA staff, The Guardian said.
Snowden's revelations to media that US intelligence agencies collected data on phone calls and other communications of Americans and foreign citizens as a tool to fight terrorism have sparked uproar in the United States and abroad.
Intelligence officials say the programs helped thwart terrorist attacks.
"The implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false," the agency said in a statement in response to The Guardian's new report.
The agency called X-Keyscore part of "NSA's lawful foreign
signals intelligence collection system".