Showing posts with label CSE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSE. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

X-Post: Islands Business - Monitoring and Mapping the Pacific

Raising debates on legality and privacy

When you make a phone call, send an email or use your Facebook page, information that you send across the airwaves or through the Internet can be scooped up by Western intelligence agencies.

In the United States, there has been widespread public debate over government monitoring of telecommunications and the Internet, after a contractor working for the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed programmes that targeted domestic communications as well as foreign enemies.
Whistle blower Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then Russia, leaking documents to the media which revealed surveillance programmes known as PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora.

In the Pacific region, countries like Australia, New Zealand and France also operate signals intelligence and communications intercept programmes, which monitor diplomatic, commercial or military communications from other nations. There is growing concern that government agencies and private corporations are also gathering data from citizens at home, raising debates over legality and privacy. In recent months, this issue has been debated in New Zealand after Prime Minister John Key introduced legislation in Parliament to expand the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—New Zealand’s communications intelligence agency.

In July, there were rallies in 11 cities around New Zealand to protest the draft legislation, which was still before Parliament at the time of writing. Australia and New Zealand collaborate in the region under the UKUSA Agreement, which shares intelligence amongst the agencies of five Western allies. The “Five Eyes” which monitor communications are the NSA and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), supported by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), New Zealand’s GCSB and the newly renamed Australian Signals Directorate (The ASD was formerly called the Defence Signals Directorate, but was rebadged in May this year when then Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched Canberra’s latest Defence White Paper).

ASD is Australia’s primary collector of signals intelligence and other electronic data, through the interception and reporting of communications like international phone calls, emails or military radios. A key task is the interception of military communications from Indonesia and other nations in the region, primarily through facilities at Shoal Bay Receiving Station, east of Darwin. Another Australian interception facility is the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS), located at Kojarena near Geraldton in Western Australia.

Professor Richard Tanter of the University of Melbourne, a senior research associate with the Nautilus Institute, says that the 1946 UKUSA Treaty originally focused on signals intelligence such as radio communications, but this has been expanded through the use of new technology. “It’s now clearly been expanded to include email and Internet intercepts carried out in different technological ways,” Tanter said. “In Australia, this is done at the joint defence facility at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, the Australian Signals Directorate facility at Shoal Bay near Darwin and the Australian Defence Satellite Communication Station at Kojarena, which is part of a worldwide system of satellite communications monitoring known as Echelon.”

Tanter told ISLANDS BUSINESS that information gathered by Australian and New Zealand is now highly integrated with agencies like the US NSA and Britain’s GCHQ: “As well as downlinking data from satellites, Pine Gap is used to process as well as intercept satellite communications, to share this information with the United States and other UKUSA allies.” Tanter stated that intelligence monitoring programmes can be used to spy on allies as well as enemies. “We also know from Snowden’s revelations that these facilities were used by Australia for its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council,” Tanter said. “That would certainly have involved listening to the communications of any Pacific country that was relevant to that voting.

It certainly would be used in Australian trade negotiations with Japan and other countries. Assuming these programmes are solely military is underestimating what they’re used for now.” Last month, Australian media reported Snowden’s revelation that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd received information about Asian leaders at the 2009 G20 meeting in London, when British and American intelligence targeted leaders and officials attending the international conference. 

New Zealand bases

Over many years, New Zealand researcher Nicky Hager has documented New Zealand’s role in this UKUSA network, through the satellite communications interception station at Waihopai and radio communications interception station at Tangimoana. In the 1970s and 1980s, a key task for the GCSB was monitoring communications from the French nuclear testing programme at Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls and Russian fishing vessels that ventured south of the Equator.

Hager’s 1996 book ‘Secret Power’ detailed the wider role of Tangimoana in the islands region: “The big aerials at the station were right then monitoring nuclear-free Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and all New Zealand’s other South Pacific neighbours—everyone in the South Pacific, in fact, except for the Western intelligence allies and their territories.

Large quantities of telexes and Morse code messages sent by long-distance radio in the Pacific region were being recorded at Tangimoana and sent to the GCSB in Wellington for distribution to select public servants and to the four allied intelligence allies.” Hager also documented how the interception of satellite communications at Waihopai provides a much wider treasure trove of intelligence: “Diplomatic communications between embassies and their home capitals, all manner of government and military communications, a wide range of business communications, communications of international organisations and political organisations and the personal communications of people living throughout the Pacific.”

In the 21st century, these surveillance programmes are much more sophisticated. Recent Australian-United States ministerial (AUSMIN) meetings have extended agreements covering the new frontiers of space and cyber warfare. In 2008, AUSMIN ministers signed a Statement of Principles for a Military Satellite Communications Partnership and officials are continuing to develop a US-Australia Combined Communications Partnership.

Nic Maclellan

" In the Pacific region, countries like Australia, New Zealand and France also operate signals intelligence and communications intercept programmes, which monitor diplomatic, commercial or military communications from other nations. There is growing concern that government agencies and private corporations are also gathering data from citizens at home, raising debates over legality and privacy"
The September 2011 AUSMIN meeting in San Francisco issued a Joint Statement on Cyber Warfare, stating that the ANZUS Treaty’s provisions could also be invoked in the case of cyber-attacks. The 2011 AUSMIN communiqué declared: “Mindful of our longstanding defence relationship and the 1951 Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America (ANZUS Treaty), our governments share the view that, in the event of a cyber-attack that threatens the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of our nations, Australia and the United States would consult together and determine appropriate options to address the threat.” Governments justify Internet and satellite monitoring programmes as a crucial element of efforts to track terrorists, cyber-criminals and potential military threats.

But critics argue the PRISM programme in the United States or the new GCSB legislation before New Zealand’s Parliament give too much power to agencies to gather information on citizens as part of their cyber security role. They argue that sharing of data between the five Western powers allows intrusive control of citizens who are not engaged in criminal activities, without accountability to public institutions. In New Zealand, the opposition Labour Party has come out against the ‘Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill’.

A range of agencies, including the Privacy Commission, the New Zealand Law Society and the Human Rights Commission, have also raised concerns about the effect of the legislation on citizens’ privacy. The debate heated up after revelations that the GCSB had illegally monitored the phone and internet communications of New Zealand citizens, and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) had access to the phone records of an New Zealand journalist working in Afghanistan. In July, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff called for a delay in the passage of the legislation to allow more time for discussion on oversight provisions, but at the time of writing, the Key government was pressing ahead to pass the bill.

France’s base in New Caledonia

As well as the ANZUS allies, France also monitors satellite, internet and telecommunications from installations in the Pacific On 4 July, the French newspaper Le Monde reported on the signals intelligence programme run by the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE)—the French intelligence service best known in the Pacific for the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985. Electronic interception bases are maintained in 20 locations in mainland France and its overseas territories.

In the Pacific, communications are monitored by an installation in New Caledonia which came into operation in 2006. This facility is located at the French military’s naval airbase at Tontouta (New Caledonia’s international airport, outside the capital Noumea). According to Le Monde, “the secret services systematically collect the electromagnetic signals emitted by computers and telephones in France together with the digital flows between France and overseas countries, so the totality of our communications is monitored. Emails, SMS messages, phone calls, access to Facebook, Twitter and more are then stored for years.”

The long-term collection of information in these vast computer databases allows the analysis of “metadata”—the pattern of who called whom, the date, time, frequency, or location of the call. While the DGSE can legally monitor overseas traffic, the material is gathered in supercomputers at the DGSE headquarters in the Boulevard Mortier in Paris. Without appropriate legislation, it can then be accessed by domestic intelligence agencies, including the military intelligence agency Direction du renseignement militaire (DRM), domestic spy agencies, customs service and bodies concerned with money laundering.

Mapping the Pacific

Beyond communications monitoring, another key Australian intelligence agency operating in the Pacific region is the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO), now being renamed the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO). According to the Australian Defence Department, DIGO has a key function of “obtaining geospatial and imagery intelligence to meet the operational, targeting, training and exercise requirements of the Australian Defence Force.”

For more than a decade, DIGO has been involved in programmes of geospatial mapping in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and other Pacific countries. Working with SPC/SOPAC and government Lands Departments, DIGO has conducted mapping surveys using systems which link with Global Positioning Satellites (GPS).

 Beyond the value of creating detailed maps of rural and outer island areas that can be used by Pacific governments, these activities have military applications. DIGO notes that geospatial analysts “can derive information including maps, charts and digital topographic information to support a range of military tasks, such as battlefield analysis, employment of weapons systems and troop movements.” Richard Tanter of the University of Melbourne notes: “This terrain mapping and visual mapping is highly valued by operational military commanders, not simply in conventional warfare in Afghanistan but in counter-terrorism operations and for drone warfare.”

In August 2003, the Australian Army deployed early versions of drones known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). As well as providing valuable data to the ADF, the first Australian commander of the Combined Task Force in Solomon Islands Lieutenant Colonel John Frewen described them as “a potent psychological tool” in disrupting militia activity.

The five-week trial of UAVs in Solomon Islands was the first time the ADF used pilotless aircraft in an operational environment. The results of UAV operations in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands were the basis of an expanded programme by the ADF in Iraq and Afghanistan. DIGO’s website states: “Support to military operations within DIGO also looks at the preparation of products and services for planning possible future military operations in areas where the Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police are not yet deployed.”

Source: Islands Business 

More info: The Guardian

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