Jul 12, 2013

Telstra’s deal with the devil: FBI access to its undersea cables

The US government compelled Telstra and Hong Kong-based PCCW to give it access to their undersea cables for spying on communications traffic entering and leaving the US.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor


Telstra was compelled to strike a 2001 deal with the FBI and the US Department of Justice to give them surveillance access to the undersea cables owned by its subsidiary Reach, a new document released online and provided to Crikey reveals. The document shows Telstra, at that stage majority-owned by the Howard government, and its partner Pacific Century Cyber Works (now PCCW), then controlled by Hong Kong businessman Richard Li, agreed to provide the FBI with around-the-clock access to Reach's cables to spy on communications going into and out of the United States. It is signed by Telstra's then-company secretary Douglas Gration, then-deputy assistant US attorney-general John G. Malcolm, Alex Arena of PCCW, Alistair Grieve of Reach and Larry R. Parkinson of the FBI.

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14 thoughts on “Telstra’s deal with the devil: FBI access to its undersea cables

  1. Debs is dead

    Trying to point the finger at one of the two neo-liberal political movements that dominate Oz politics as being to blame for this is just stupid, playing their game of diversion by reducing politics to a tribal football match. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a lib tory govt or a labour tory govt, the same cringing forelock tugging surrender would have been made in both cases.

    If you doubt this, I suggest you reconsider the current labour mobs’ acquiescence to spookdom over the banning Huawei hardware on all Oz backbones.

    Huawei aren’t banned because they have ‘backdoors’ to China – as the american & oz spooks claimed.
    Although the changes brought about by IPV6 have increased the range & availability of communications metadata, there are practicalities impacting on the construction of a data mining matrix which needs to capture 100% of metadata.
    Without supporting switch infrastructure engineered in at the design stage, such backdoors are worthless. Huawei hardware was banned because it doesn’t have amerikan backdoors built into it.
    Being pragmatic types the Huawei execs would probably put the things in if asked but amerikan/oz xenophobia induced paranoia among the spooks won’t allow them to trust an oriental.

  2. exile09

    John Pilger tried years ago to raise consciousness about the US Inc domination of communication in Oz, but the news never got traction. Pine Gap is a major sore. And just to think the US military are free to roam around sections of Queensland.

    Skype and Google are to be avoided at all costs.

  3. Ian

    Thank you Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Barrett Brown and other brave people for revealing more frightening truths about the malevolent American state and its co-opted, cowardly allies like Australia and the big corporations. Without your explicit revelations I doubt whether the Washington Post and other establishment media would ever have gone on to reveal all the other shameless shenanigans of the US government and their allies.

  4. Curly Higgins

    “This agreement, at that time 12 years ago, reflected Reach’s operating obligations in the US that require carriers to comply with US domestic law.”

    12 years ago was probably before the days of the importance and necessity of encryption . We might as well get the preliminaries over and done with. We could be a long time in the same cell-block.

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