Espionage

Security bill will muzzle human rights activists

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In this era of so-called “fake news”, civil society plays a critical role in holding governments to account. Claire O’Rourke Brisbane Times And yet, with Labor capitulating to the government on the proposed National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill, it may soon become a crime to hold the Australian government to account on its human rights record. The truth itself would not be a defence. By joining regimes around the world in passing new, restrictive laws attempting ... Read More »

Labor and Coalition agree on espionage laws that critics fear would ‘criminalise’ journalism

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Sources say agreement struck between members of joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security Michael McGowan The Guardian The major parties have agreed to changes to proposed foreign espionage laws that critics have warned would “criminalise” investigative journalism. The Guardian understands that, after months of negotiation, a bipartisan agreement on the controversial foreign espionage bill has been reached between members of the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and… The recommendations of the… Labor and Coalition… Read More »

Accountability is key to building trust in Australia’s intelligence community

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Intelligence doesn’t have to be, and rarely is, James Bond-esque. Indeed, 007 is the world’s worst spy: everyone knows who he is, meaning he is compromised, exposed and susceptible to blackmail before he… Daniel Baldino The Conversation But the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and the all-encompassing “war on terror” that followed, did have a major transformative impact on the handling of secrecy and surveillance activities in… One impact has been the growth of executive authority in national security. This ... Read More »

Operator of world’s top internet hub sues German spy agency

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The operator of the world’s largest internet hub challenged the legality of sweeping telecoms surveillance by Germany’s spy agency, a German court heard on May 30. Berlin Hurriyet The BND foreign intelligence service has long tapped international data flows through the De-Cix exchange based in the German city of Frankfurt. But the operator argues the agency is breaking the law by also capturing German domestic communications. “We have grave doubts about the legality of the current practice,” said a statement Wednesday on the website of De-Cix Management GmbH, ... Read More »

At a crossroads, Part II: No more shadows: The future of intelligence oversight in Congress

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In the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, M (Judi Dench) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) debate how to respond to a leak that has led to the assassination of several MI6 intelligence agents. Tommy Ross War On The Rocks They are torn between a desire to ensure that MI6, Britain’s premier spy agency, remains a credible part of British democratic institutions and the need to avoid antiquation in the face of rapidly changing technology and… At one point, Mallory laments, “We ... Read More »

Defence Department scientist had separate role with China-linked firm

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The Defence Department is reviewing business dealings between one of its senior scientists and the Chinese government’s missile development agency amid ongoing concerns about Beijing’s effort to… By Alex Joske, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker & Angus Grigg The Age In a separate development, Fairfax Media can also reveal that Australia’s peak scientific research agency, the CSIRO, spent tens of millions of dollars upgrading its cyber-security and information systems after a… The man disappeared after the apparent breach in November… Defence ... Read More »

Salisbury poisoning: UK experts cannot prove novichok nerve agent used on Skripals came from Russia, MoD says

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‘We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions’ Kim Sengupta Independent Accusations and recriminations between Britain and Russia are set to escalate with the news that scientists at the Porton Downmilitary research facility have been unable to establish exactly where the novichok nerve agent used to carry out the… The admission comes the day before Moscow convenes an emergency meeting of the… Salisbury poisoning: UK… Read More »

Enough is enough: The message to Russia is clear, but it’s not over yet

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It was in the hectic midst of the ASEAN conference in Sydney a fortnight ago that Julie Bishop first discussed with her British counterpart, Boris Johnson, the prospect of expelling Russian spies. David Wroe The Age Bishop and Johnson had spoken by phone three days earlier after British leader Theresa May stood in the House of Commons and called out the Kremlin over the nerve agent attack on British soil. Then on the Saturday in Sydney, Johnson flagged in a text ... Read More »

Politics podcast: John Blaxland on new foreign interference laws

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The government’s new foreign interference laws propose broad changes to political donations, counter-surveillance, and lobbying in Australia. Michelle Grattan John Blaxland ANU professor John Blaxland has some real concerns about the unintended consequences of the legislation for academic debate. The Conversation He says there’s a real chance that good people engaging intellectually with issues might get caught up in the broader crackdown. On the controversy surrounding Sam Dastyari’s dealings with a Chinese businessman, Blaxland says its been a “sobering” lesson ... Read More »

Coincidence or coordination?

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Russians approached at least nine people in Trump’s orbit during the campaign and presidential transition Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger The Washington Post Through family, business and campaign operatives, Russian nationals repeatedly sought contact with Donald Trump’s world, starting only a few months after his presidential bid was announced in 2015. They forwarded proposals to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, brought a Trump adviser to Russia to speak and repeatedly sought meetings with Trump and his aides. Special ... Read More »

Former UK spy chief says encryption ‘very positive’

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A former British spy chief said on Aug. 11 that encryption of online communications was “very positive” for the country’s national security interests despite the difficulties that it poses for security services attempting to tackle… Reuters Hurriyet British Prime Minister Theresa May has proposed tougher measures to tackle militants online activities after four attacks in Britain this year while Home Secretary (interior minister) Amber Rudd visited Silicon Valley earlier this month to demand tech companies step up their… Jonathan Evans, ... Read More »

Jose Ramos-Horta warns gas dispute with Australia risks pushing East Timor closer to China

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East Timor’s former president Jose Ramos-Horta has issued a blunt warning to Australia that the gas dispute between the two countries risks pushing Timor closer to China. ABC Australia and East Timor have been locked in a messy dispute that has included allegations of Australia spying on its poorer neighbour during negotiations for an oil field in the Timor Sea, worth an estimated $40… Jose Ramos-Horta… Read More »

Germany investigating 20 Turks on suspicion of spying: Die Welt

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German authorities are investigating 20 Turkish citizens on suspicion of conducting espionage in Germany, a… Berlin, Reuters Hurriyet Die Welt said it received the information in an official government response to a question about the issue filed by Sevim Dağdelen, a German lawmaker with the… Tensions are running high between the two NATO allies ahead of the April 16… Germany investigating 20… Read More »

Britain attempts to brand journalists as spies

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The UK government is considering new laws that target journalists who obtain or share state secrets. Jim Killock Al Jazeera News British journalists could be treated as spies, and given up to 14 years in prison for handling state secrets, if proposals by the UK’s Law Commission become law. In 2015, the Commission… Britain attempts to… Read More »

Russia ships ‘chase away’ Dutch submarine in Mediterranean

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Russia’s defence ministry has said two of its navy destroyers have forced away a Dutch submarine to stop it spying on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. The sub was 20km (12 miles) away from the Admiral Kuznetsov at the time of the incident, the military said. Russia sent a… Russia ships ‘chase… Read More »

‘Increasingly aggressive’ Russia a growing threat to UK, says MI5 head

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Exclusive: In first newspaper interview given by a serving spy chief, Andrew Parker talks of terror, espionage and balance between secrecy and privacy Ewen MacAskill and Paul Johnson Russia poses an increasing threat to the stability of the UK and is using all the sophisticated tools at its disposal to achieve its aims, the director general of MI5 has told the Guardian. In the first newspaper interview given by an… ‘Increasingly aggressive’ Russia a… Read More »