Disasters, hackers and disinformation: Experts forecast risks to national security

He Whenua Taurikura Hui: Annual meeting anti-terrorism talks since Mosque attacks. Video / Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government is committed to being more open about the country’s national security as a landmark briefing revealed natural disasters and the intentional spread of harmful information are seen as the highest risks to New Zealand’s national security.

The document, titled the National Security Long-term Insights Briefing, was discussed at a Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism hui in Auckland this week.

Speaking to media after the hui, Ardern said that people’s privacy is important but “we also have a duty of care to keep people safe.”

She said communities need to be resilient to mis- and disinformation

On hate speech laws, she said amending the legislation was only one measure that could be taken to combat it.

She said a proposal on hate speech garnered strong support, but also many didn’t agree with it and questioned whether it went further than a royal commission.

She said agencies are not equipped for mass surveillance, but also didn’t believe that is what New Zealanders wanted.

Andrew Little said while agencies could monitor the entire internet, he said he was confident they were monitoring all forms of extremism.

The briefing document warns the country’s increasingly divided and ageing population could become further vulnerable to extremist ideologies, online attacks from malicious overseas actors and the negative impacts of war and climate change – if efforts to educate Kiwis and shore up New Zealand’s defences are not furthered.

It also includes what’s considered a surprising finding that New Zealanders feel particularly at risk of a cyber-attack – something the briefing acknowledges the Government can’t adequately protect its citizens from.

The briefing, the first of its kind, was produced by nine Government agencies and surveyed 1000 people to test the mood of the nation concerning the perceived risk of various threats to national security.

“The release of this briefing is an opportunity to talk openly about the most significant threats New Zealanders are concerned about for the next decade as well as the work we are…