back to article SHOCK REVELATION: Telstra manages its networks!

Reporting on telcos' role in communications interception is getting very, very, silly. Back in July, Australian media “discovered” an agreement between Australia's dominant carrier Telstra and the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice to snoop submarine cable traffic. As we demonstrated at the time, …


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  1. Private Citizen.AU
    Big Brother

    Spooks and cops need a warrant. but TELCOs dont?

    The big issue that everyone is overlooking is that the Telco ("Telstra" in this case) is gathering information beyond what is required for Billing and operations without a warrant. (e.g. message headers and content)

    They are not allowed to do this according to the privacy act and I am unsure that the other legisaltion implicitly allows them to gather the data en masse on the off chance that one of 22 million citizens will have a warrant issued against them some day.

    The legislation requires them to have mechanisms to provide information to spooks and cops lawful requests but does this mean they are allowed to gather data preemptively of a warrant?

    The telling point is that successive govt have tried to pass data retention laws, for exactly the same data that Telstra is collecting. If the gathering of such information was legal already then why the need to introduce the legislation?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spooks and cops need a warrant. but TELCOs dont?

      Actually, I'm pretty sure, under the privacy act, this is ok for Telstra to do. Especially if you happened to sign a privacy policy (or maybe check a checkbox for a form you were supposed to read but didn't), Telstra is very much within its rights to collect this data under the privacy act.

      The government was attempting to force all Telcos to do it mandatorily, but at the moment it isn't something forced. Therefore, Telstra can do it if they want to, and the government could technically go ask for the information if Telstra had it, but if Telstra didn't have it then they wouldn't be in trouble for it.

      1. Private Citizen.AU

        Re: Spooks and cops need a warrant. but TELCOs dont?

        privacy act allows information to be collected and used for its intended purpose (e.g. the provision of a service) so I dont think you could argue that the privacy act allows the stockpiling of communications for review. It does not matter whether you chose to check or uncheck a box on a Telstra privacy policy agreement as it would only be binding if both parties (the sender and the receiver) in the communications agreed to Telstra's "privacy" policy.

  2. Diogenes

    Not sure if urban myth

    but Telstra had an external driver to roll out the /A4 exchanges as quickly as possible as these have "external" monitoring built in. I remember this being discussed a the time as a piece of exchange data management software I was working on at the time was running a wee bit late.

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  4. RainForestGuppy


    And I thought Splunk was just a reasonably price piece of log collection, aggregation and analysis software, It sounds some much sexier as spookware.

  5. cracked


    What's interesting about the post snowden age, is how Eddie's stuff appears to have focused (some of) the mainstream on how awful it is that the government is reading all of the data that just about every internet company was already collecting, "reading" and abusing.

    A brilliant piece of deflection, apparently free of self-risk or cost.

    Free SSL for everyone - Look how good we are.

    Obviously this isn't a dig - one way or the other - at Telstra and its need to manage its networks. Unless you go way out on a limb and wonder whether an ISP has a responsiblility to force customers to understand the privacy implications of using their services.

    And who wants to go out on that limb?

    It's (obviously) not spying, if you're not a spy.

    1. codeusirae
      Big Brother

      Re: Spotlight

      "Obviously this isn't a dig - one way or the other", cracked

      I fail to understand what is your point? Thisw is my point, what your ISP holds on you is one thing, but when you put this together with all the other data the state security apparatus has access to, that does make me uneasy.

  6. Rob Diamond

    Nice apologist article, Simon !

    Well Simon - sounds to me very much you're like an apologist for ASIS/DSD/NSA, etc. Just who does pay you ?

    Most of your comments are OK, in as much as you can legitimately hold that point of view. But where you are downright misleading is where you say:

    "Carriers operate networks. If they didn't monitor them extensively, we'd be worse off than if they did! That the tools they use harvest lots of data about network traffic should not be news to anyone.".

    As far as I'm concerend it's OK to collect network traffic data about types of traffic, DDOS attempts, traffic volume by destination, etc, etc. But the collection of the same metadata (and more) that the NSA collects *is* a cause for concern, especially if there's no adequate oversight. And the revelations that Australia tapped into the Indonesian President and his family's phone calls just shows that ASIS/DSD *are* out of control.

    It's not just the invasion of EVERY AUSTRALIAN citizen's privacy that I don't like. It's also the fact that the Security Snake Oil salesmen are selling our spy agencies all this expensive kit, with absolutely no cost-benefit analysis. All this stuff costs the Australian taxpayer big dollars - it might be much more cost effective to have a couple of spooks based in Indonesia rather then spending unknown millions on all the whiz-bang electronics and then paying rafts of people to sift through the haystack of data. But because it's all top secret no-one can question the spending. See the way the Government and Defence Department has wasted/is wasting billions of dollars on submarines that spend all their time in dry dock being repaired, on planes that are delivered 10-15 years late, etc, etc. Then imagine the same kind of schemozzle in spook spending, except it's worse because it can be covered up using the old "national security" excuse. But if you think the current (and previous) Governments care about wasting our taxpayer dollars just read all the stories about the politician's expense rorts. Sigh !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice apologist article, Simon !

      So you found us out ... The NSA pays Simon, of course.

    2. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: Nice apologist article, Simon !

      "And the revelations that Australia tapped into the Indonesian President and his family's phone calls just shows that ASIS/DSD *are* out of control."

      Oh please, Every embassy in the world is a sanctuary for spies, the indonesians consistantly send there boys over to us to collect classified information from us. The US spies on us and we spy on them, no one says anything about it though, this is why we have things like so called secure blackberrys for ministers and defence personnel. there is always someone spying and most of the time it will be a friend, ( its not like were going to let pakistan near our senstive sites or people.)

      1. Glen Turner 666

        Re: Nice apologist article, Simon !

        "...the indonesians consistantly send there boys over to us to collect classified information from us."

        It's a bit naive to think that Indonesian spies are primarily interested in the activities of the Australian government. They are much, much more interested in the activities of Indonesian nationals in Australia. In short, you don't find them trying to tap the "secure blackberrys" of Australian politicians but intimidating people raising funds for West Papua and ensuring that Indonesian students studying at Australian universities know that their government is watching them.

        I think that part of the anger of the Indonesian establishment towards Australia's spying activities is that this focus of Indonesian spying activities away from Australia's government has been shown up by the depth of Australia's penetration of Indonesia's government. Not once -- as during the East Timor crisis -- but now twice.

        It also helps that Australian police forces have taken foreign government intimidation much more seriously in the past decade, a positive side-effect of the War on Terror.

    3. Nonni Mouse

      Re: Nice apologist article, Simon !

      "tapped into the Indonesian President and his family's phone calls"

      I still have not seen evidence that anything but phone call records were obtained (as disturbing as that might be, it still isn't the "phone tapping" the media have been touting).

      As always, I'll believe it when I see it - so all evidence is welcome.

      Now, about the meta-data being collected and stored by Telstra....

  7. Sanctimonious Prick

    The Jax

    Scenario: is pwned by the NSA. The NSA grew a few more brain cells and recreated a copy of the pwned site. You're a reporter, working from home, who has just heard/read twice now, rumours about what the NSA have just done. You visit just to check it out. Your IP is logged by the NSA. The NSA do a reverse lookup. The NSA send your ISP a request (read, demand) for info on who that IP belonged to. The NSA then give that info to AFACT, who then give that info to the local Jax. The local Jax then raid your place for any copyright infringements!

    -am i in trouble now?

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