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Aussie Telco Telstra Agreed To Spy For America 125

An anonymous reader writes "Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has for a decade been storing huge volumes of electronic communications carried between Asia and America for surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies. This includes not just the metadata, but the actual content of emails, online messages and phone calls. With the blessing of the Australian government Telstra agreed to route data through a 'U.S. point of contact through a secure storage facility on U.S. soil that was staffed exclusively by U.S. citizens.' The contract was prompted by Telstra's decision to expand its business in Asia by taking control of hundreds of kilometers of undersea telecommunications cables. The deal started under the Liberal Party and continued under Labor. The Greens have demanded an explanation."
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Aussie Telco Telstra Agreed To Spy For America

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  • I'm not an expert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @08:50AM (#44260127)
    I don't know but... isn't THAT some kind of treason or betrayal of your fellow countrymen or something?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If Australia doesn't harshly punish the people responsible, you will know they're one of the boys.
      • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday July 12, 2013 @08:56AM (#44260165)

        Well, this was reportedly done "with the blessing of the Australian government", so the odds of the Australian government punishing Telestra (or themselves) seem low.

        • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:42AM (#44260613)

          ... the odds of the Australian government punishing Telestra (or themselves) seem low.

          Your absolutely right. It's down to the populace to hold their government accountable. Vote them out of power, and make sure the next party you elect puts protections in place to ensure this never happens again.

          • by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:56AM (#44260773)
            Unfortunately the two dominant parties are all on-board with this shit. Unless there is a mass migration to third parties (Like Greens, Wikileaks party, Pirate Party...) that form a coalition bigger than Labor/Liberal together, then the two main parties will just continue to do as they have been the last few years - voting in police state expansion of ASIO powers, giving Tesltra the all clear to send private sensitive Aussie data to foreign corporations, etc. Admitedly Aussies have more chance of handing power to third parties than the does US - but it is a reeeally long shot when Rupert Murdoch controls 70%+ of the countries media (and by extension, their hearts and minds).
            • We thought the same in the UK until we had the current Coalition government. Yes it's not ideal to have a major and minor party (Conservative and Liberal, respectively) but at least it's one step closer to actually representing the will of the majority instead of the most popular of the choices available.

              I keep saying that we need a proportional representation system, but the detractors always say that the right wing will get a place of power. Well, that's part of the public opinion. There's also the signi
              • but the detractors always say that the right wing will get a place of power. Well, that's part of the public opinion. There's also the significant majority who aren't aligned that way, so we still end up with sane minds getting things done.

                As various South American countries bucking the world trend and posting rising living standards are pointing out from their 80s experience: Unfortunately public opinion usually always just happens to go with whatever goal mass media sets. Unfortunately for Australia that means Rupert Murdoch's goal. Throw in the fact that there are no laws that prevent marketing information as "news", but then when the information they delivered is actually challenged in court, the media class can get off any charges by cl

              • I keep saying that we need a proportional representation system, but the detractors always say that the right wing will get a place of power.

                Thats kinda the point isn't it though? The detractors complain that the likes of the BNP will get some representation in government, but IMHO if (say) 1% of the population vote for the BNP then that 1% should get 1% of the say in how the country is run, even if the other 99% find that distasteful. Completely eliminating the opinions of a small proportion of the population because you find them distasteful does not democracy make.

                The AV vote would've started us off in the right direction, but that was sunk

            • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

              Unfortunately the two dominant parties are all on-board with this shit.

              Vote Wikileaks Australian Party [] or the Greens. I'd rather have a hang-up Parliament again than be spied on for the benefit of US spooks.

              • Here here!

                ... but it's not really an eithor/or situation... we had a hung parliment _and_ we got spied on.

            • by trawg ( 308495 )

              If you actually care about this stuff though, you basically have to vote Greens - they (thanks to Senator Ludlam) have a good track record in fighting this sort of thing. The two main parties have shown not only that they're on board, but there's basically no room for compromise.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        If Australia doesn't harshly punish the people responsible, you will know they're one of the boys.

        but they are one of the boys(or bitches), a military ally.. nobody told the greens though.

        however it could explain their shitty ping.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From wikipedia:

      Section 80.1 of the Criminal Code, contained in the schedule of the Australian Criminal Code Act 1995,[3] defines treason as follows:
      "A person commits an offence, called treason, if the person:
      (a) causes the death of the Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, the consort of the Sovereign, the Governor-General or the Prime Minister; or
      (b) causes harm to the Sovereign, the Governor-General or the Prime Minister resulting in the death of the Sovereign, the Governor-General or the Prime M

      • My reading of that list (i'm also NAL) is that: Unless we can demonstrate harm to the Sovereign, GG, or PM, or wish to declare America "an Enemy" via a declaration of war (or other outbreak of hostilities), there can be no treason through any interaction with the US.
        • Well, there's that whole part that says "whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared". Though I don't think anyone would be seriously willing to argue that intercepting communications constitutes an act of war in and of itself.

    • And for some (t)reason you missed the point, accidentally?
      The synopsis says Telstra stored data about coms between "Asia and America", not Australia.
      Perhaps you missed the statement "With the blessing of the Australian government".

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      For helping the US spy on international calls between the "US and Asia?" Maybe it's illegal but I wouldn't think that was treasonous. Probably not even illegal given that their government said it was okay.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:51AM (#44260715)

      Not really. It's common knowledge that the Australian Government has an even more intimate relationship with the United States Government than Monica Lewinski.

    • I don't know but... isn't THAT some kind of treason or betrayal of your fellow countrymen or something?

      It's only treason if it's against the government.

      It's probably safe to assume that there is some bilateral agreement in place between Australia and the US for information sharing (cooperative spying on the civilian populations of both countries).

      Legislation is needed to close the loophole apparently being used by many governments that while they are not allowed to spy on their own citizens, allied powers are not stopped from doing so.

    • Re:I'm not an expert (Score:5, Informative)

      by wmac1 ( 2478314 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:07AM (#44260899)

      It is officially an act of spying on your own country. I don't have enough stomach to read the news these days.

    • by ignavus ( 213578 )

      I don't know but... isn't THAT some kind of treason or betrayal of your fellow countrymen or something?

      Damn that unpatriotic Telstra! They should have been spying for the Australian government. How dare they spy for another government instead.

    • by Occams ( 2422082 )
      The Australian Government has been sucking up to the USA since PM Harold Holt begged LBJ to allow Australian troops (including conscripts) to serve in the Vietnam War. The "Reds under the Beds" election campaigns, and the domino theory, were very effective for the Liberal Party. Many good men died for their re-election. Labor fell into the same abyss.
  • Worse? (Score:4, Informative)

    by coofercat ( 719737 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:17AM (#44260359) Homepage Journal

    For Australians, I'd imagine this news to be worse than Edward Snowden reporting that the NSA blanket-monitors the US. I mean, monitoring is one thing, but actively sending full content to another nation seems like another entirely.

    That said, I think we know what will actually happen about all of this, even with whatever public outrage it incites.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      The article states "between Asia and America" so how would this bother Australians worse? Australia isn't Asia or America so Australian citizens aren't involved unless they are on vacation.

      • Re:Worse? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cenan ( 1892902 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:50AM (#44260691)

        The Guardian disagrees with you. []

        The agreement, first reported by Crikey who obtained the documents, gave the US government permission to store "domestic communications" – with the possibility of using them for spying – using the underwater cables owned by Reach.

        Domestic communications were defined in the agreement as communications within the US but could also extend to communications which "originate or terminate" in America, meaning Australian communications with America could have potentially been subject to the agreement.

        The Slashdot summary is, as is usual, fails to highlight the really interesting part (not that two consecutive governments approved this isn't interesting)

        Telstra also agreed to report to the US government every three months on whether any foreign non-government entities had asked for access to their communications, and complete a compliance report every year which could not be accessed using freedom of information laws.

        Oh really? How is that global fight for freedom going for you guys?

        The points of contact were to be American citizens and the agreement also stopped Telstra and Reach, which is based in Hong Kong, from complying with any country's laws that certain data should be destroyed.

        51% sure, or how was that?

        • Apart from anything else I want to know why a company in which I own a shitload of shares is keeping information from me. These "compliance activities" cost money and may breach Australian law. And now they may well be damaging the brand.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        If your looking for some of the Australia links in map form try: [] (Telstra, BT, Verizon Business, Softbank) [] ~Jakarta, Indonesia to Perth, Australia [] []
        Basically this is a huge peering network that allows the US gov to keep an eye on all data of a network wrt to Asia/Australia netwo
  • In Soviet Earth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone Spies for Murica (or we will FREE the shit out of your government....even faster if you have oil)

    • or we will FREE the shit out of your government

      I love the smell of laser guided democracy in the morning!

      Smells like...victory.

      • by ArcadeX ( 866171 )

        Smells like...victory.

        I thought it smelled like our embasy's grease trap, i.e. McDonalds...

  • helping us (Score:5, Funny)

    by beefoot ( 2250164 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:29AM (#44260491)
    NSA is building a huge database to help us to help ourselves. With the data that they have, they can easily tell me what I want for lunch today or tomorrow. Or better yet, do my job for me. I can relax at the beach all day long watching bikini babes.
  • Hook me up NSA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buck-yar ( 164658 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:37AM (#44260563)

    I'd like to spy on some people, give me access damnit!

    How long before the current administration uses this against their political foes, if they haven't been already? They send the IRS after political opponents, why would the NSA be any different?

    • by GodGell ( 897123 )

      How long before the current administration uses this against their political foes, if they haven't been already?

      It'd be ridiculous to even consider them not having done it already. Systematic centralization of power didn't happen by itself, and it didn't happen just for show either. They amassed all that power to use it.

      Just out of the last few tabs I have open (without even searching), here's one example: []

  • The article is pretty vague, only stating that communications routed through undersea cables that carry information to the United States of America must pass through a US government-owned facility; Telstra itself isn't doing anything, it's all occurring on the other end of the cable on US soil. I'm a little surprised that the US government is trying to vet all communications entering their country, but I don't see what Telstra has to do with it other than owning a link to the US (and I'm not a fan of Telst

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:50AM (#44260705) Journal

    Geez, Australia really is our bitch, ain't it?

    You folks down there must be really proud.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You say that as if "we" had any input on (or even knowledge of) what was going on. Logically, if "we" are completely oblivious as to what's happening, then "we" aren't the people making it happen.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Last time we quietly grumbled but still complied some American idiots playing James Bond decided they'd try to remove the Australian leader who grumbled. It was entirely pointless since he was politically doomed anyway, and it backfired when two US agents used it as an excuse to sell secrets to the USSR (the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman" is based on what came out in court when the agents went to trial).
    • The 51st state, mate.

    • They aren't doing this for America. They are doing it to get around their own laws that prevent them from spying on their own citizens. Of course, America has no law preventing it from spying on Australians so they do. Then when Australia want's to know what's going on with one of their own, they ask America for the information, effectively circumventing their privacy laws. This is a reciprocal arrangement with most western allies. They all do it. America does the same thing and asks for info from all

  • But unfortunately I need to buy home phone line rental from Telstra in order to get ADSL2+ from TPG (for various reasons TPG home phone or Naked isn't an option)
    Bring on the NBN I say (although that said, I have no doubt that no matter who is in government and no matter which ISP you are choosing for your NBN service, no-one is going to say no to the US spooks)

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @09:56AM (#44260767)

    The Greens demand an explanation do they? Do they sleep through their political careers or something? It's basically common knowledge that Australia has bent over backwards for our American allies whenever the opportunities arose. We gladly and blindly followed the USA into a war about nothing, and certainly nothing that benefited Australia.

    What's a bit of wire fraud in the grand scheme of things?

  • Explanation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday July 12, 2013 @10:02AM (#44260847) Homepage Journal

    The explanation is simple. The US considers themselves the world's police men, the world's legal system, and the world's judge, jury, and executioner. They do not and will not stop at anything, including breaking their own laws, to achieve domination.

    Their society has degraded from one of freedom to a classic, textbook case of the nationalistic fervour, corporatism, and militarism of the fascists of yore. But as soon as you say "fascist", you're dismissed as "exagerating", despite the fact that modern US society displays all the traits of fascism right down to the surveillance and police state mentality.

    You can see the nationalistic fervour in the way that US society has calmly ignored the whole whistle blowing over the surveillance led by the US government around the world. As far as US citizens seem to be concerned, their government can do no wrong.

    • the media, in the US, are puppets. they know who their daddy is and they won't cross him. or expose him for the wrong-doer that he is.

      people in the US are mostly kept in the dark. we don't get news, we get entertainment that calls itself news. anything that could bite the hand won't be reported.

      and so, americans are kept dumb and out-of-the-loop. then again, half of us who know about all this nastiness and spying STILL want to deny it or defend the gov for 'keeping us safe'.

      I don't think there's anythi

    • Re:Explanation? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday July 12, 2013 @12:04PM (#44262023) Homepage Journal

      Everybody knows what's best for you. And they'll make sure you know it, too.

      The USA just happens to be in power right now due in part to the wealth of natural resources and in part due to a series of shrewd decisions, like selling aluminum and fuel (among other interesting things) to the Axis before joining the Allies at just the right moment to really maximize their profit, as well as hiring (and spiriting) away the most successful scientists from the Third Reich. Right now, we have the money and the oil and the power. I presume that this is why we are so against progress; if things move ahead, we may well lose our advantages and simply be one nation among many.

  • We share bases, For example this base: []

    This isn't really surprising that they work together to do this.

    • But "we" don't work together. We bend over and take it up the arse. The US military has a permanent presence in very many countries in the world, including most it calls allies. I call that occupation. Boots on the ground and the velvet glove of do-as-we-say or we will isolate you economically. Tyranny by any other name.

      • by nhat11 ( 1608159 )

        Occupation and colonization doesn't work and shown to fail most of the time in the past.

        Hey Dodgy G33za, I have no issues with you. If I have something to work with you in business or something, I'm not going to force you to do it.

        • by Sabriel ( 134364 )

          Although, you said it yourself: occupation and colonization doesn't work and shown to fail most of the time in the past.

  • So tired of nationalistic collectivism.

    Let's be clear: The a telco in Australia agreed to spy for the *government* of America. They certainly didn't do it for me. I never asked, and I doubt I ever will.

    • Well, I certainly hope that the Aussies in this case have some "nationalistic collectivism" left, enough so to feel their nation's pride injured enough over this to loudly and unambiguously tell US to fuck off - and actually follow up on that by electing the politicians who will talk the talk and walk the walk.

  • And SO?? I mean who cares? you sheep think its ok for advertisers to spy on our every move because we get something in return. That is where the problem started. Allowing our government to make laws that allow the police to put up check stops to check for drunk drivers but also get anyone else who falls in the very large net. Its the US citizens fault for not taking more of a role by at least voting the bastards out. But as long as we get something in return well its ok to spy . Well you got what you wante
    • I hate to agree with you but, I agree. People are getting exactly what they deserve because not enough of them care. And this is just the first step before other things happen. The Government can get away with anything these days because people have stopped caring about what all those Soldiers died fighting for and all that blood and Ink spilled. And for what do they give up what so many fought for? Their Internet and Video Games. What a pathetic crop of Human Beings, how I loathe thee.

      "Those who would give

  • It's 2013 - why is Slashdot's icon for anything Australia-related still Crocodile Dundee's hat?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because its better than a picture of a lap-dog on Obama's lap ;)

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It's 2013 - why is Slashdot's icon for anything Australia-related still Crocodile Dundee's hat?

      What else would it be, yanks wont know what a VN Commo is, a prawn is too ambiguous, sharks are already used for anything to do with lasers, roo's, koala's and Emu's are overused and overrated. Few people outside of Australia recognise a map of Australia. So what else are they meant to use?

      Besides, the hat is an Akubra and it is an Australian icon, long before Paul Hogan ever donned it.

  • That is odd: Edward Snowden is not cited as source. Do we have another leak somewhere else?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re: Do we have another leak somewhere else?
      "a new document released online and provided to Crikey reveals"
      Sounds like an older doc sitting in some complex MS filesystem or something.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.