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Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System 133

An anonymous reader writes "Newly disclosed documents from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that in Australia with the NSA has gained comprehensive access to Indonesian's national communications systems. They tapped into Indosat, Indonesia's domestic satellite telecommunications provider including data on Indonesian officials in various government ministries and obtained 1.8 million encrypted master keys, used to protect private communications, from Indonesia's Telkomsel cell phone network. Australia has been recently criticized for tapping the phone of the Indonesian President's wife and for the Royal Australian Navy accidental incursions into Indonesian territorial waters."
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Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:38AM (#46264215)

    I wish people would stop making this statement.

    a) It's just an opinion, and there's little other than anecdotal evidence to back this statement up. I'd also hazard that it's not universally true.
    b) It implies this is the natural state of things and that it should be accepted.
    c) It implies there aren't laws against this, which there are.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:21AM (#46264339)

    Pretty sure Indonesian law forbids it. Guess that doesn't count.

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:33AM (#46264403)

    Phone tapping national leaders 'normal', says former Indonesian spy chief []

    Indonesia's former top spy master has accused his own President of exaggerating the problem of phone tapping, saying attempts by intelligence agencies to snoop on national leaders were "normal".

    And former spy agency chief Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono has also punctured claims by his Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa that Indonesia would never tap the phones of Australian politicians, insisting it was a routine part of "black intelligence". .....

    Mr Hendropriyono, the head of Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN) until 2004, has been thrust into the Australian political debate because of a TV interview he gave in 2004, in which he admitted to bugging Australian politicians. .....

    In an interview with Fairfax Media, the former Indonesian army general has now amplified his 2004 comments, saying of Australia's attempts to listen to the conversations of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady and their confidantes: "For intelligence, it's normal."

    He added that Indonesia not only had the capacity to tap the phones of Australians, but that intelligence agencies also had a responsibility to try it, "friend or foe". .....

    Asked if Indonesia could listen to Mr Abbott's phone, he said: "We have the ability to tap and to counter-tap". However, he also suggested that Australian counterintelligence would prevent this happening.

    Mr Hendropriyono said human intelligence — what he called "white intelligence" — was standard practice in embassies worldwide, but that phone tapping was "the most reliable" way to confirm information gathered.

    "Tapping and counter-tapping is quite common in the intelligence life, because it is one of their primary jobs," he said. .....

    "Intelligence is judged like in sport, two boxers fighting in the ring. They punch and they counter-punch... They attack and they defend themselves, but it is in the ring — the ring of intelligence. If the officials, in this case politicians, interfere in the case, that is wrong. That is very wrong."

    Now that it is in the political arena, the politicians have overreacted, he said. ....

    "I hope that both our leaders, SBY as well as Tony Abbott should not be too emotional... Please do not deteriorate [the relationship] because of a very small thing. This is a very technical thing."

    Yes another US ally screwed by a Snowden leak. Can we assume at this point that we'll be hearing nothing about China, Russia, or Iran? Remember how Snowden claimed that he was an expert about Chinese activities and taught classes on them? I wonder what happened to that material?

  • Re:It just did! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:50AM (#46264469)

    Wow, looks great. If Slashdot goes Beta, stick a fork in it. It's done. Pun intended!/p

  • by clockwise_music ( 594832 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:51AM (#46264471) Homepage Journal
    Maybe from an American point of view this isn't such a story. But I can assure you from an Australian and Indonesian point of view this is going to be massive.

    The Australian government has already received heaps of flak about phone tapping the Indonesian president's wife which was a very big deal. Indonesia were not happy. The president even took the unprecedented step of tweeting his displeasure. Then the Australian government decided it was a good idea to start towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia - they claimed the policy was to "turn the boats back" - turns out they've been actually towing them and going straight into Indonesian waters with our war boats. Stupid, stupid. Plus they "accidentally" did this 5 times.

    And only two days ago some Aussie girl was just released early after having been locked away in an Indonesian prison for 10 years. This will have raised the Indonesians ire too. This will just give them another excuse.

    In 2 hours there will be another spluttering prime minister on the TV trying to put this fire out claiming that it's nothing new, "all's fair in love and war" etc etc, but it really depends on how the Indonesians react - if the headline is "Aussie's listening to ALL our phone calls, 1.8 million keys stolen, collaborating with the US", the people will react and protest, the government will look weak in front of their people, and they will have to react.

    I think there's going to be a bit of a storm about this one.
  • by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:45AM (#46264901)

    You've missed the point. Pull your focus back from the NSA. Snowden isn't just whistleblowing on them, he's whistleblowing on the rot, and the rot extends to the entire Federal Government and it's fellow international governments, including mine.

    I don't have a problem with intelligence agencies spying. That's what they're for. What I _do_ have a problem with is _governments_ pretending that their intelligence agencies never spy on anyone except evil villains, when that's quite frankly ludicrous.

    The difference, if you think about it, is rather profound. Think about where this kind of "oh we'd never spy on our allies (except when we do)" bullshit leads - a lack of proper checks and balances, a lack of oversight in favour of rubberstamping, etc.

  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @06:04AM (#46265341)

    Seriously. These are spy organizations. And here they are - spying. On foreign countries, no less. What were they thinking?

    The Snowden leaks started out with things the public actually needed to know. The NSA spying on Americans is a gross overstep of the organization's charter. Spying on friendly nation's leaders is an embarrassment. This, however, seems to me like them doing their job.

    At first, I thought that labeling Snowden as a spy was an overreaction. The US government trying to silence a whistle blower. However, were I a juror in a trial in which he released just this document, I'd convict.

    Anyone who disagrees is kindly requested to answer two simple questions:
    1. What should the NSA do?
    2. Assuming this is not this, how can a country maintain military intelligence without doing this?


    There is the subtle way to do things and then there is the really clumsy and idiotic way to do them. I mean I can see how it is legitimate for the USA and Australia to spy on Indonesia with a bit more intensity than their close allies. However, is it really worth it to take the spying to a level that the target nation might construe as bordering on an act of war? What if the shit hits the fan in the region and a formerly cooperative Indonesia is so pissed off over this that they have moved into the Chinese camp? Would this spying still be worth it? Is it worth while to tap the telephones of the leaders of your closest allies (an operation that the NSA it self has admitted resulting in pretty much ZERO usable intelligence?) and risk spoiling a set of relationship that has been of vital strategic and economic importance to the USA since the end of WWII? Is the role of the NSA really to wreck every diplomatic relationship the USA has? How paranoid is the US leadership? Why isn't it enough for them to keep spying on their closest allies sufficient for the US leadership to have a good idea of what their closest allies are doing? Why must US intelligence operations be at a level that seems aimed at knowing what kind of underwear every single citizen of these nations is wearing down to the size, brand and color? *** WARNING: sarcasm ahead *** I think the USA can rest assured that none of its NATO allies is planning a sneak nuclear attack on the USA and we aren't secretly funding Al Quaeda either and if the US leadership needs to tap the telephones of Angela Merkel and François Hollande to discover that, then the US leadership need psychological help.

    I am not a US citizen, I am however a citizen of a NATO allied nation and I value our strategic and economic relationship with the USA and from my point of view Snowden's revelations about the near Orwellian level of US spying on it's closest allies is a positive thing. This is especially true if Snowden's revelations result in the EU internet infrastructure being restructured so as to minimize the amount of traffic that goes through locations where the USA can intercept it because it may help to prevent the relationship between us Europeans and the USA from deteriorating even further despite the best efforts of the US security services to sabotage it with their excessive paranoia.

  • Re:It just did! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday February 17, 2014 @07:37AM (#46265577) Homepage Journal

    While trying to register a new account:
      An unexpected error has occurred.

    Looks like it's either a broken piece of shit, or it requires javascript, which makes it a broken piece of shit.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes