The Greens have called on Telstra to immediately disclose details of a deal, revealed by Crikey today, which was struck 12 years ago to allow the FBI and US Department of Justice to monitor calls and data traffic via the company's undersea cables.
"Telstra, at the time majority owned and controlled by the Howard Government, struck a deal to allow 24/7 surveillance of calls going in and out of the United States, including calls made by Australians. The cables in question are operated by Telstra subsidiary Reach, which controls more than 40 major telecommunications cables in the region, including cables in and out of China and Australia," said Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam.
"While the current Australian Government recently pushed then abandoned a two-year mandatory data retention scheme, for more than a decade this secret deal with the United States compelled Telstra, Reach and PCCW to store all customer billing data for two years.
"The deal also compelled Telstra, Reach and PCWW to provide any stored communications and comply with preservation requests; to provide any stored meta-data, billing data or subscriber information about US customers; to ignore any foreign privacy laws that might lead to mandatory destruction of stored data; and to refuse information requests from other countries without permission from the United States.
"This secret deal also allowed FBI and US Department of Justice officials to conduct inspection visits of Telstra and Reach offices and infrastructure.
"This is an extraordinary breach of trust, invasion of privacy, and erosion of Australia's sovereignty," said Senator Ludlam.
The agreement is available at this link: http://media.crikey.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/US-NSAs-Telstra.pdf