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Spy Expert Says Australia Operating As "Listening Post" For US Agencies 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
First time accepted submitter ozduo writes in with news about Australia's alleged involvement with the ongoing NSA spying program. "Intelligence expert Professor Des Ball says the Australian Signals Directorate — formerly known as the Defense Signals Directorate — is sharing information with the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA is the agency at the heart of whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaks, and has recently been accused of tapping into millions of phone calls of ordinary citizens in France, Germany and Spain. Mr Ball says Australia has been monitoring the Asia Pacific region for the US using local listening posts. 'You can't get into the information circuits and play information warfare successfully unless you're into the communications of the higher commands in [the] various countries in our neighborhood,' he told Lateline. Mr Ball says Australia has four key facilities that are part of the XKeyscore program, the NSA's controversial computer system that searches and analyses vast amounts of internet data. They include the jointly-run Pine Gap base near Alice Springs, a satellite station outside Geraldton in Western Australia, a facility at Shoal Bay, near Darwin, and a new center in Canberra."
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Spy Expert Says Australia Operating As "Listening Post" For US Agencies

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  • lolwut? (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:09PM (#45287717)

    "Intelligence expert Professor Des Ball says the Australian Signals Directorate â" formerly known as the Defense Signals Directorate â" is sharing information with the National Security Agency (NSA).

    Let's rewrite that to be a bit more accurate and a bit less, er, leading:

    One of America's closest allies and long-time member of ECHELON recently reminded the world that they haven't stopped sharing intelligence.

    • Re:lolwut? (Score:4, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:20PM (#45287779) Homepage Journal

      ob. link [slashdot.org].

      From the linked article [archive.org] there:

      Together with the giant American National Security Agency (NSA) and its Canadian, British, and New Zealand counterparts, DSD operates a network of giant, highly automated tracking stations that illicitly pick up commercial satellite communications and examine every fax, telex, e-mail, phone call, or computer data message that the satellites carry. ...
      According to the former Canadian agent Mike Frost, it would be "nave" for Australians to think that the Americans were not exploiting stations like Kojarena for economic intelligence purposes. ""They have been doing it for years," he says. ""Now that the Cold War is over, the focus is towards economic intelligence. Never ever over-exaggerate the power that these organisations have to abuse a system such as Echelon. Don't think it can't happen in Australia. It does."

      My, how much progress we've made in fifteen years...

      • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:38PM (#45287857)

        My, how much progress we've made in fifteen years...

        We've made considerable progress in 15 years. 15 years ago, nobody thought the internet was much more than an academic curiousity. All the big players today didn't exist 15 years ago -- Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon... didn't exist. 404 Business Not Found. But 15 years ago, and people seem to forget, the telecommunications networks that the internet was built on, and later developed a symbiosis with, was being tapped, surveilled, and that data shared with these same governments; As they had done since a few years after WWII, when the world leaders held summits and asked: How can we prevent the next Nazi Germany? And the answer was the same one that won the Allied Powers WWII: Computers. Cryptography. Information Awareness. Back then, information awareness came down to radios, radars, and phone lines, but the doctrine hasn't changed in 50 years: Knowledge of the enemies communications and positions is what wins wars. It's how Germany kicked the everloving shit out of Europe -- blitzkrieg. Be fast. Go unseen. Rain death from above. And be gone before the enemy can mount a response.

        And people act like this is some kind of new thing... like the mentality and the methodologies being used by the NSA and its foreign counterparts are this big revelatory thing. But it's not. Not when you understand that we have our eyes and ears everywhere -- you can't move an army anywhere on Earth without us (and by that, I mean America and her allies) knowing about it, and being able to respond with lightning speed. This is common knowledge today. From satellites to realtime worldwide communication... intelligence assets can now be placed, developed, analyzed, and acted upon through the chain of command in less time than it takes you to brush your teeth in the morning.

        Which means there's only one place left a threat can hide: By being small and decentralized... by flying under the radar.

        And lookie lookie -- what's the NSA been up to these past few years? They aren't just tracking standing armies now. They aren't even just tracking companies, factories, and infrastructure that those armies would need for logistics. They've gone right now to street level. They're going house by house, cable by cable, looking for anyone and anything that could still fly under the radar.

        Good? Bad? Depends on who you ask. But the one thing I've gotten real damn tired of hearing on Slashdot and hundreds of other websites is the tired mantra of "Oh noes! The NSA is spying on us!" ... without bothering to answer the question of why much beyond "Because they're just evil, you know." People have developed the NSA's true motives in their minds about as well as Hollywood develops Star Trek villains! "I'm gonna be bad because... I feel like being bad."

        • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @11:00PM (#45287953)

          While you make a nice speech you have a huge misnomer in your statements. We are not seeing a "spying on enemies and troops"! If it was only spying on the military of foreign agencies, people would not have an issue with it. It is spying and tracking individuals who are NOT military. It is spying on allies with the same fervor you would an enemy. It is spying on businesses who are not working for a foreign military.

          This spying has resulted in squashing free speech in the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, etc.. These are not military actions by foreign enemies, these are people that are not content with what their selected leaders are doing. Police show up before rallies in both countries (I have friends and relatives in Germany and live in the US) and start arresting people. They insert agent provocateurs in some of these events to disrupt movements (Canada, the US and Germany are all proven to have done this).

          This spying has resulted in massive misinformation campaigns against real world problems. They can see where people are getting data and disrupt communications. They see hot debate topics and flood the media outlets with disinformation and ad homimen when they can't disrupt the data.

          If it was _only_ military spying like you hint at we would probably be happy about it, but even this has become either a honey pot or distortion. Look at the whole of the Middle East as well as North Korea for examples.

          The fear people have is that this data is being gathered for the same reason the SS cataloged and monitored every German. Do something someone does not like and you are a "sympathizer" and killed or jailed. We already see buds of this happening.

          Nothing good can come from this level of spying and information gathering. Nothing! To claim that we all claim "Oh noes" without considering all of the facts and consequences based on historical evidence is not only unfair, but absolutely wrong. Perhaps _you_ have not paid attention or not weighed much, but many of us have!

          • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by khallow (566160) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @11:55PM (#45288179)

            Nothing good can come from this level of spying and information gathering. Nothing!

            I quite agree, s.petry! Even if you did for some reason trust the current people in power for the rest of time, they won't stay in power. Even if the current people have good intentions for such abuses of power, that doesn't mean a future more ruthless regime won't take their place. In fact, such a regime might be more likely to happen as a result of this spying and data collecting!

          • by icebike (68054)

            Nothing good can come from this level of spying and information gathering. Nothing!

            Exactly.
            This level of distrust BY our government breeds hatred and distrust OF our government.
            This can't end well.

          • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by readacc (3401189) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:03AM (#45288207)

            The thing that will really turn someone's head is if you question whether your Government is one of the "good guys". If it can be shown that, say, the US aren't the good guys, then and only then will it click in people's brains that perhaps all this collection of data on citizens might actually be cause for concern.

            Yes, some Governments are worse than others, but it takes the first step in realizing that all Governments look out for themselves first and their citizens a distant second, before you realize why pervasive surveillance is a problem

          • While you make a nice speech you have a huge misnomer in your statements. We are not seeing a "spying on enemies and troops"!

            You need to go look up the word misnomer. I said that was the case... FIFTY YEARS AGO. Today's threats are small, highly mobile, and thanks to technology small groups of people can have huge force multiplers in their favor. We can now bomb entire armies to dust with one guy sitting in a room using remote-controlled airplanes. And likewise... one guy can strap a bomb to his chest, run into a crowd, and kill or maim many of them.

            The days of limiting surveillance to only troops and governments is long gone. It

            • by s.petry (762400)

              You need to go look up the word misnomer.

              I know what the word means, I was pointing to the difference between espionage/surveillance and spying. Spying is what a military would do, espionage and surveillance is what the NSA has been doing.

              I said that was the case... FIFTY YEARS AGO.

              Sorry, that is not what you stated. That may be what you meant, but that is not what you stated. You stated "but the doctrine hasn't changed in 50 years: Knowledge of the enemies communications and positions is what wins wars. It's how Germany kicked the everloving shit out of Europe when referencing "FIFTY Y

              • What people are upset about is not "spying", they are upset about Government surveillance and espionage against non-military targets.

                What the government is saying is you can't tell the difference in today's world: Terrorist don't wear uniforms.

                You are confusing border security with domestic espionage and surveillance, they are two vastly separate areas for concern.

                No. The government has repeatedly stated those things are now relevant and related. Sorry if you didn't get that memo back in 2001.

                I'll go one up on you. Every plot foiled that the Government is crediting to the surveillance state has been a setup by the FBI. [...] The joke is on you, do you get it?

                *facepalm* The Tin Foil is strong with this one.

                Next, you miss the whole point of being a constitutional republic. It's not a democracy and "what's good for me", it's about a rule of law and what's good for society as a whole.

                "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

                Please tell

                • by s.petry (762400)

                  What the government is saying is you can't tell the difference in today's world: Terrorist don't wear uniforms.

                  Wrong, that is not what the Government is saying. They are saying that it's perfectly legal to spy on citizens in what ever fashion they wish. Go listen to or read every speech given by the NSA, FBI, and defenders of PRISM. They all parrot the same lines, and interestingly it was released today that the NSA gave them all "talking points" referencing fear mongering tactics when defending the program. The talking points document is searchable and was found through a FOIA request.

                  *facepalm* The Tin Foil is strong with this one.

                  Really, you still resort t

                  • Wrong, that is not what the Government is saying.

                    Wrong. You're wrong. Because wrong.

                    Really, you still resort to ad hominem to support your delusion...

                    Dude, it's your tin foil hat, not mine. You just suggested the most massive conspiracy theory since the faking of the apollo moon landings. So yes, I'm gonna mock you. Mercilessly. The idea that the FBI has faked every single capture of every single terrorist... ever... is so incredibly stupid that I award you no points sir, and may God have mercy on your soul.

                    What does the Declaration of Independence have to do with the rule of Law?

                    Yes... what does one of the most seminal works in the annals of political writing have to do with anything? Nothin

                    • by s.petry (762400)

                      Wrong. You're wrong. Because wrong.

                      If you deny facts to support your belief then there is no possible way to have a rational discussion. That and the consistent ad hominem in place of facts or positions makes me question why I have previously defended you. Have fun in what ever fantasy land you are living in, and no I won't make the mistake of trying to defend someone that lacks the ability to have a rational discourse again.

                    • Wrong. Wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

                    • by s.petry (762400)
                      Because you deny facts and say so. Impeccable logical skills.
                    • Wrong. Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. Very.

        • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @11:04PM (#45287983) Homepage Journal
          You can read the classic sock puppets out on any NSA story on slashdot. I think they still try and post about "fear" and 'not' looking at global finance for insider trading in some desperate struggle for legitimacy.
          With every Snowden news report they look more and more lost. The world now understands the reach and fascination the NSA has with all calls, faxes, emails, chats, logs, junk encryption. Now they also understand how their own govs staff and contractors subvert their own govs over generations.
          What was sold as looking outward at the Soviet Union only was also always inward too. Everybody understands now and many crypto developers will be much smarter. US tech brands will be enjoyed but never trusted again.
        • by Tofof (199751)

          All the big players today didn't exist 15 years ago -- Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon... didn't exist.

          2013 -15 = 1998.

          Google: September 4, 1998. Ebay: September 3, 1995. Amazon: July, 1994.
          For values of 'all' that equate to 'none but one', sure, that statement is true.

          The rest of the statement reads just as similarly to a memorandum from the Ministry of Truth.

          • All the big players today didn't exist 15 years ago -- Google, Facebook, eBay, Amazon... didn't exist.

            2013 -15 = 1998.

            Google: September 4, 1998. Ebay: September 3, 1995. Amazon: July, 1994. For values of 'all' that equate to 'none but one', sure, that statement is true.

            It's the end of October. Fifteen years ago today, Google had been around for two months...

            So, more correctly, for values of 'all' that equate to 'none', that statement is true.

        • by symbolset (646467) *

          15 years ago, nobody thought the internet was much more than an academic curiousity.

          Um, no.

        • by tragedy (27079)

          Good? Bad? Depends on who you ask. But the one thing I've gotten real damn tired of hearing on Slashdot and hundreds of other websites is the tired mantra of "Oh noes! The NSA is spying on us!" ... without bothering to answer the question of why much beyond "Because they're just evil, you know."

          I think most of us have asked and answered that question. The obvious answer is _power_, just as you say. Theoretically, the NSA is meant to amass this power on behalf of the people. The problem is that they're obviously using these capabilities for power _over_ the people. Evil? Not sure. Corrupt? Pretty much by definition considering the principles in the corruption (the fact that we're now constantly being told that the constitution doesn't mean what we think it means, is just more corruption).

        • by icebike (68054)

          It would be fine if the NSA watched the US borders, and the Australian Signals Directorate watched the Australian borders.

          But that isn't what is happening. The NSA has taken it upon itself, even before 9/11, to monitor every aspect of American life, and
          I'm sure the Australian Signals Directorate is doing the same down under.

          I'm not so naive as to believe there aren't people IN the US and IN Australia and IN Great Britain, that want to do damage to their country.
          But that's a local police matter, not somethi

        • by Dynedain (141758)

          We've made considerable progress in 15 years. 15 years ago, nobody thought the internet was much more than an academic curiousity

          Bullshit, 15 years ago, AOL was sending floppies and CDs to everyone in America. The internet was still novel for most people, but it had grown orders of magnitude outside of academic circles.

          The biggest reason why the major players of 1997's Internet aren't major players in 2013's Internet are because most of them* went under in the Dot-COM bubble.

          *Amazon.com re-branded/launched

        • Re:lolwut? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by msobkow (48369) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:53AM (#45288357) Homepage Journal

          The problem is we have yet another fascist-leaning government running the spy agency in question. They kowtow to corporatism. The ignore the will of the people. They publicly and blatantly take bribes. They launch the police against their own people should they protest their behaviour. They launch wars and kill millions over resources.

          And all while flag-waving patriotism claims this bullshit is "freedom" and "democracy."

          What a farce the world has become.

          The Nazis could only dream of achieving what the US has done with their hegemony.

        • Amazon did exist 15 years ago. It went online in 1995 and I've been buying books from them since around 1997. Ebay was founded in 1995 as well. Google was founded in 1998, so it just makes the 15 year old mark. They may not have been the behemoths that they are today, but they were there and they were well known even in the late 90s.
        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Google, eBay, and Amazon all existed 15 years ago. Maybe not starting with an obvious lie would make for a better argument?

          • by jamstar7 (694492)
            Maybe not so much an 'obivous lie' as a failure to remember history correctly and failure to check facts before posting.
            • by nedlohs (1335013)

              Which are the same thing, given it takes a few seconds to check. Both mean the rest of the claims are suspect and not worth the effort checking - the whole argument can just be ignored (of course given the moderating a bunch of people didn't). Whether the rest of the argument is suspect because the poster lies or because the poster had a bad memory and doesn't double check (a bad combination) doesn't make a practical difference.

        • "15 years ago, nobody thought the internet was much more than an academic curiousity."

          Dude, this is 2013. The internet stopped being an academic curiosity around - ohhhh - 1995 or so. I guess Windows 95 is a safe mark with which to make my point. 95 was marketed widely, to common consumers, and small businesses, as well as students. Fifteen years ago marked Win98 of course, and regular consumers were a well established part of the intartubez by that time.

          20 years ago, few people thought the internet was

    • Dont worry, they are busy spying on themselves for the Americans..

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waihopai_Station
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangimoana_Station
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9070435/Controversial-GCSB-laws-pass-by-two-votes

      They are, after all, part of the same 'club'.

      I bet politicians from both are now (if they didn't realize/get reminded earlier) aware that they are owned..
      After all, all their dirty little secrets will be as useful to the 'protectors of the free world' as those of

    • I'll go a bit further and say the obvious implication which you hint at. It's not a "listening post for the US", it's a "partnership in a massive world wide spying program". Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, Australia, Canada, they are all in on it.

      Funny that all of these people are bitching about the US doing it when they are not complaining about their own countries collusion and benefits from this spy ring.

    • Re:lolwut? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sardaukar86 (850333) <cam@NOSPAM.todaystlc.com> on Thursday October 31, 2013 @01:18AM (#45288443) Homepage

      The most embarrassing thing about this (for me anyway) is that New Zealand is also complicit in this arrangement. As I understand it our Waihopai facility near Blenheim (attacked by activists in 2008, they were acquitted in 2010 [stuff.co.nz]) is an important part of the surveillance programme. I expect to see a similar article about us in due course.

      I jeered at the trio when I saw the original news item. At the time I called them Luddites, trespassers and vandals, unaware of the larger issue they were taking on. For shame! When the NSA scandal broke I suddenly understood what they were about and realised they were actually everyday garden-variety heroes standing up for something they believed in.

  • Yeah they've gotta keep an eye on those damn kiwis and their international threat to a 70hr work week.
    • Dont worry, they are busy spying on themselves for the Americans..

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waihopai_Station
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangimoana_Station
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9070435/Controversial-GCSB-laws-pass-by-two-votes

      They are, after all, part of the same 'club'.

      I bet politicians from both are now (if they didn't realize/get reminded earlier) aware that they are owned..
      After all, all their dirty little secrets will be as useful to the 'protectors of the free world' as those of

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:47PM (#45287895)

        After all, we must all be protected from any form of true democracy and/or choice!

        The people who work at these agencies would probably remind you that without all this surveillance, you'd be hiding under your bed waiting for the next terror attack or IED. Democracy would be on the evening news every night waving a flag over the bodies of its adherents while its opponents marched in the streets, celebrating victory after victory.

        People forget that we do have enemies; There is more than one way to organize a society, and a lot of people feel like the best way to deal with a society different than your own, is to advocate, encourage, and even practice violence against them "so they know their place." Are the threats as big as they say? Are the sacrifices we've made to keep those threats at bay worth it? I don't know. But don't you dare get on a soap box and preach about "true democracy" without answering the question: How do we protect it?

        You do not just get to handwave away the threats. You have to answer them -- even if it's just to say "Then that is the price we will pay." It's okay to say everything they're doing is wrong; Afterall, this is a democracy right? But if you won't suggest an alternative, then you don't really care about democracy. You just want to rage against "the man" and be a rebel without a cause. You want to feel righteous, but without all that hard work of enduring tensions, making compromises, and reasoning out not what's best for you -- but what's best for an entire country.

        And if you do that, then I have no respect for you. You want to bitch about the NSA? Okay, fine. I grant you that. But what's your alternative? Put something on the table for the rest of us to discuss, or give up your chair for someone who's willing to not just talk about democracy, but sit down and actually do it.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @11:41PM (#45288131) Homepage Journal

          You do not just get to handwave away the threats. You have to answer them -- even if it's just to say "Then that is the price we will pay."

          Okay: then that is the price we will pay.

          More precisely, that is the price we might pay. Personally, I think the price will be a lot lower than you say--but I'm willing to take that risk. Because there is nothing al-Qaeda or any other bunch of troglodytes is going to do to us that's worse than what we can do, and are doing, to ourselves.

          Happy now?

          • Happy now?

            No. I'll be happy when we start having a discussion about how to address the threats before us. It doesn't sit right with me saying it's okay for people to come into my home (America) and start blowing shit up and for us to just sit back and say "Well, not much we can do about that." Is what we're doing right now the right answer? I don't know. But it's a better answer than not meeting the threat at all.

            Here on slashdot and all across the blogosphere, I find people raging against the NSA and surveillance, b

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Well GIT it gets a bit complex.
          Say your Australia and have sent a group of special forces soldiers on a drunken gap year "tour" of the world. Fit, bright, accents, real "fake" passports and they blend in perfectly. Australia did not tell any other nation about such missions.
          30, 20, 10 years ago some Australian telco/crypto expert shares upgrade details with the NSA and GCHQ.
          Australian military encryption is good but not really hardened in many places via unique networks.
          That phone home safe house in
        • by RoTNCoRE (744518)

          My alternative - read the Constitution. Follow it. Tear up the Patriot Act. Shift all NSA funding into infrastructure. Have a national, single payer health care system. All government employees earning more than 6 figures at any point in their career sign an agreement similar to a non-compete, where they cannot move into a private sector job that in any way is awarded contracts or funds, or else their new employer will suffer hefty conflict of interest fines. Enforce it.

          You don't have to know where you are

        • by Sabriel (134364)

          True democracy, as I understand it, requires the _informed_ consent of the people - something the government is unwilling to allow, since its dominant unwritten policy can be mostly summed up as "better to risk getting caught in a lie than to be honest from the beginning".

          Every single official in government has a duty and obligation to uphold the Constitution. If they want to have a secret intelligence organisation that reads everyone's letters and listens to everyone's conversations, because they truly bel

        • by jamstar7 (694492)

          People forget that we do have enemies;

          I agree on that point. However, I think we diverge when I say the enemies the United States really has are not necessarily the 'enemies' we see paraded about on the nightly news.

  • by Billlagr (931034) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:12PM (#45287735)
    How? I'm an Aussie, and this is no great unexpected revelation. Pine Gap is a joint Aus/US operated facility, and I'm pretty sure that nobody really thought that it was just a nice place meeeting place for American and Australians to swap recipes.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The problem for Australia is the legality of 20 years of 'privacy' laws and gifting Australian only data to the USA.
      Australia was great for Rhyolite satellite ground station back in 1970 and no encryption was added to save weight. Australia traded its location over generations for US hardware, staff and a constant flow of data.
      Australia is also on a network that was once Intelink-C so you have a lot of chatter world wide bringing staff/contractors generational closer to each other than to any elected Au
  • Huge surprise. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:16PM (#45287761) Homepage Journal
    The fact that the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia have a very close relationship surprises exactly whom, these days? I mean, it goes back to WW2, if not before, and each country has its own reasons: the UK gets to exert significant influence over the world's dominant power, Canada wants the US to help pay for the resources to defend the high Arctic, and Australia found out during WW2 that due to geography, the US was a much more reliable guarantor of security than the UK.
    • Re:Huge surprise. (Score:4, Informative)

      by legoblocks (3415897) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:17PM (#45287767)
      Exactly. AKA Five Eyes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement [wikipedia.org]
      • Australia, Britain, Canada, America have a bunch of cooperation agreements to share military resources, intelligence, strategy. Not really surprising. Look up TTCP, ABCA, ASIC, CCEB.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Australia found out during WW2 that due to geography, the US was a much more reliable guarantor of security than the UK.

      Didn't really have much to do with geography -- more to do with the fact that GB was rather busy defending herself against the Germans (and then rebuilding, once they were defeated); whereas the US was already fighting the same Japan that threatened Australia.

      • That might have something to do with the fact that the USA and Australia are on the Pacific, and the UK isn't.
        • by quenda (644621)

          That might have something to do with the fact that the USA and Australia are on the Pacific, and the UK isn't.

          Not really. If Britain was not struggling to avoid total invasion by Germany, British Singapore would never have fallen to Japan.
          Britain would have had no trouble projecting sufficient power there, were it not all tied up in Europe and North Africa.

          • Not really. If Britain was not struggling to avoid total invasion by Germany, British Singapore would never have fallen to Japan. Britain would have had no trouble projecting sufficient power there, were it not all tied up in Europe and North Africa.

            Unlikely. Time required to move significant military resources literally halfway around the world is much larger than one might think.

            Note for example the time required to move enough troops for D-Day the much shorter distance to the UK.

    • The fact that the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia have a very close relationship

      Hey, hey don't forget little old New Zealand. There are 5 eyes you know, not four...

      • New Zealand does not share the same relationship with the US (though yes, they are part of the five eyes SIGINT). Since the 80's up until 2008 NZ was considered a friend, but not an ally [fas.org]. Condoleeza Rice used the ally word in 2008 and it was shocking. The US only started allowing NZ warships into their ports in 2012 and NZ still doesn't allow US warships because of their nuclear ban. Definitely not on the same level as Aus/UK relations, though its thawing.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Not really. Australia had its own views post ww2 after learning the fine art of radio and codes alone and at war. Some suggested going alone and protecting Australia in 1945. Senior Australian mil staff recalled the mess Australia was left before and during ww2 with poor weapons, poor equipment and no good intel or code breaking help.
      Australia had the skill sets and staff after ww2. Canada was the same after ww2 and took years to really come around the requests of GCHQ and NSA to finally totally sell
  • How exactly is this news? It's even on Wikipedia--the Five Eyes [wikipedia.org] (FVEY, i.e., the English-speaking countries, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States) share just about everything. There's also the even MORE exclusive sharing group that excludes New Zealand -- ACGU -- Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States (I believe the origins of this clique go back to some disputes around US nuclear warships berthing in New Zealand).

    The arrangement is specifically designed so t

  • I do believe they read a Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on it once...
  • by sd4f (1891894) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:40PM (#45287867)

    "Don't think it can't happen in Australia, It does."

    What a lot of Australians don't even realise is that anything can happen, our political system guarantees almost no rights to citizens, with only one real recourse; you can vote for another politician at the next election. Problem is, when the two-party system moves in step, there's pretty much nothing that can be done, and the general apathy of the public ensures that nothing will be done.

    It is my understanding, that in the USA, the spying conducted by the NSA is probably illegal. The problem in Australia is, as far as I'm aware, there's no problem with the parliament passing a law permitting or compelling third parties to spy or provide data, so whatever had been happening, is perfectly legal here, and the public at large doesn't care.

    • What a lot of Australians don't even realise is that anything can happen, our political system guarantees almost no rights to citizens,

      Yeah that sounds all scary the way you wrote that but it overlooks one fact, Australians have it pretty bloody good. A good litmus test of any system is to see what results it produces, and having traveled extensively I can confidently say that based on my own personal experiences, the Australian system is is one of the best. Sure we may not have a bill of rights or a cool-as-fuck constitution like our American friends. And we may have monkeys running the show and no real choice of leadership, but it seems

      • It's not the system though, it's the culture. Australia has historically been a fairly egalitarian society; far more so than the UK or the USA. That counts for a lot to this issue, because as a generalisation, for a lot of the time politicians actually worked to make the place better. I really don't think the system does anything when you have a country built around respect for your fellow citizen, because the system only serves as a constraint to prevent "bad things" from happening.

        I think we are seeing a

  • by asifyoucare (302582) on Wednesday October 30, 2013 @10:53PM (#45287921)

    Alice Springs, Darwin, Geraldton - all of those are very poor places to intercept large amounts of important traffic. Canberra, of course, is a good location to intercept government and embassy traffic, but that is new. I think I recall reading that Geraldton is used for communications to submarines.

    Most of the major cables come into Sydney. I suppose they could capture the data in Sydney and then send selected data to Alice Springs, but why would they bother doing that rather than just having operations in Sydney.

    I suspect there is large scale traffic monitoring, but these facilities don't seem to be relevant to it.

    • by lennier (44736)

      Alice Springs, Darwin, Geraldton - all of those are very poor places to intercept large amounts of important traffic.

      In the Internet era, sure. But you have to realise that Pine Gap (and its cousin, NZ's Waihopai) was built in the 1970s, to catch satellite transmissions rather than cable. Hence the big domes hiding big dishes (so you can't see what satellite they're pointing at).

      It's always possible that Pine Gap does more than one thing. There were persistent rumours for a while that it was also an emergency Undisclosed Location ("we must eliminate the mineshaft gap, Mein President!") since the centre of Australia would

      • by lennier (44736)

        Correction: While Pine Gap began development in 1970, Waihopai wasn't built until 1989. But both bases roots are in the pre-public Internet era and have strong links to satellites; Pine Gap seems to be more closely involved with various US military space communications than just plain eavesdropping.

      • by icebike (68054)

        I suggest those locations are probably still used for some satellite traffic, but these days satellites have very tightly controlled footprints.

        These sites are more likely used for combat info systems, these days. (Drones, etc).

        The cable landings are where the tap occurs. Most internet traffic goes by cable.

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Yes the 'You can't get into the information circuits and play information warfare successfully unless you're into the communications of the higher commands in [the] various countries in our neighbourhood" is the fun story not the older sat or known Cold War mil communication or fancy drone flying networks.
          This is the US in Australian domestic telco hardware and the software code.
      • by speedlaw (878924)
        On the island of Curaco, there is one of these installations of domes. At the end of the island, unmarked, and pointed, probably, at Venezuela.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      You would just mirror the data like room http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A [wikipedia.org] .
      Australia is full of public, totally private, commercial and banking networks, splitters - who would notice another cleared contractor on site?
      A lot of brands for local exchange backhaul but very little actual state wide or international.
      The data could end up at any secure location for filtering and long term storage. Lots of different optical was rolled out over the years under many brands.
      The tech is now so cheap natio
  • Australia, in addition to being one of our Valued Partners in Totally Legal Intelligence activities, is crucial to the supply of judicial marsupials that help keep these activities legal.

    If FISA were denied the lovable noses and endearing antics of the noble Kangaroo, and forced to make do with goats or something, we'd be in serious trouble inside a week! Why, it might get as bad as that time, during the Church Commission, when we had to pretend to be reformed characters. That was harrowing.
  • Why don't we just assume that someone is spying on our online activities all the time. It's a lot easier to keep track of and the only point of releasing new "leaks" in this drib and drab fashion is just to keep Snowden's name in the news.
    • That's when you ask yourself the question: What are they distracting me from noticing?

      I mean.. really, this has been in the news for a few months now, I think we all get it. NSA has their grubby fingers into everyone's data. More revelations telling the us the same is just distraction. We know. What I don't know, is what is going on that someone feels the need to keep out of the limelight? Just my 2 cents.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        The problem is the weakened junk encryption. Thats really no fun and has to be fixed. Most in the academic, crypto and developer community where still giving the sock puppets the benefit before Snowden. Its a bit like 1946 commercial/gov use of ENIGMA - the extra rotor does nothing. The world was foolish for ~60 years vs few months of reality?
  • Why do people keep acting as if something described in "The Puzzle Palace" [amazon.com] is something new, different, and surprising?

  • or finding a way to kill most world leaders in one giant swoop while having intimate knowledge about each countires majour corporations to take ocntrol over them.

  • We have no friends, only enemies and potential enemies. We only cooperate when it serves our interests. Every country knows they are being monitored, but don't admit it in public. You don't want your adversaries to know you know what they are doing to you. You want to know what your competitor is looking for. Only part of the spying is military, much of the spying could be called industrial espionage.

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries

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