TELSTRA GATHERS DATA FOR US – Saturday July 13 2013

– Telstra is storing huge volumes of electronic communications it carries between Asia and America for potential surveillance by United States intelligence agencies, more than a decade after signing a secret agreement with the FBI and the US Justice Department.
The company refuses to say whether it has similar data retention agreements with other nations’ intelligence agencies, including those in Australia.
Australia’s other major telco Optus, has declined to say whether it too stored data for potential surveillance by US, or Australian authorities.
Under the previously secret US agreement, Telstra has been routing all communications involving a US point of contact through a secure storage facility on US soil that is staffed exclusively by US citizens carrying a top-level security clearance.
This data includes the contents of emails, online messages and phone calls.
Under the November 2001 agreement, the Justice Department and the FBI also demanded that Telstra “provide technical or other assistance to facilitate…electronic surveillance”.
In 2001, when the “network security agreement” was signed, Telstra was 50.1% owned by the Commonwealth.
The “Saturday Age” has confirmed that as recently as March 2011, the agreement was still operational. Telstra has declined to answer questions about whether the contract has been significantly amended.
The revelations come as the British and US governments reel from the leaking of sensitive intelligence material that has detailed a vast electronic spying apparatus being used against foreign nationals and their own citizens.
The contract raised questions about the extent of the Australian government’s cooperation with the US global intelligence effort, as well as its own data collection regime.
Karl Reed, an adjunct associate professor of computer science at La Trobe University described the agreement as a “matter of serious concern”.
“An Australian corporate entity providing critical infrastructure is acquiescing to demands of a foreign country. What would Telstra have done if it was China asking?”
The Greens communications spokesman, Scott Ludlam, said the deed represented an “extraordinary breach of trust, invasion of privacy and erosion of Australia’s sovereignty”.
The 2001 contract was prompted by Telstra’s decision to expand into Asia by taking control of hundreds of kilometres of undersea telecommunications cables.
Telstra had negotiated with a Hong Kong company to launch Reach, which would become the largest carrier of international telecommunications in Asia. The venture’s assets included not just the fibre-optic cables, but also “landing points” and licenses around the world.
But when Reach sought a cable licence from the US Federal Communications Commission, the Justice Department and the FBI insisted that the binding agreement be signed by Reach, Telstra and its Hong Kong joint venture partner, Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW).
The contract does not authorise the company or law enforcement agencies to undertake actual surveillance. But Telstra must preserve and “have the ability to provide in the United States” all of the following:
– Wire or electronic communications involving any customers who make any form of communication with a point of contact in the US.
– “Transactional data” and “call associated data” relating to such communications.
– “Subscriber information” and billing records.
– All domestic communications…shall pass through a facility…physically located in the United States, from which electronic surveillance can be conducted pursuant to lawful US process, the contract says.
“The domestic communications company [Reach] will provide technical or other assistance to facilitate such electronic surveillance.”
The US facility had to be staffed by US citizens “eligible for appropriate US security clearances”.
The document was signed by Douglas Gration, a barrister who was then Telstra’s com pay secretary and official liaison for law enforcement and national security agencies.
He told the “Saturday Age” he could not remember much about the agreement. “Every country has a regime for that lawful interception,” he said.
Reach has offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Britain. It also has premises in New Jersey and San Francisco, which may house the secure storage facility stipulated by the contract.
In 2011, Telstra and PCCW restructured their partnership, giving Telstra control of most of Reach’s undersea cables.
Telstra formally notified the Justice Department and the FBI of the detail of the corporate restructure.
Scott Whiffin, a Telstra spokesman, said the agreement was required to comply with US domestic law. “When operating in any jurisdiction, here or overseas, carriers are legally required to provide various forms of assistance to government agencies,” he said.
Asked if Optus had any such arrangement, a spokesman, Joshua Drayton, would only say: “Optus handles all of its customer information strictly in accordance with its legal obligation under Australian law.” –


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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