29.11.18

New law to give Australian intelligence officers more rights to use firearms - New Zealand halts Huawei from 5G upgrade over security fears

The Australian government has proposed a new law that would give intelligence officers broader powers to use firearms during undercover operations abroad. If it is approved by parliament, the new law would apply to the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), a civilian intelligence agency that carries out covert and clandestine operations abroad. Modeled after Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), ASIS was established in 1952, but its existence was not officially acknowledged by the Australian government until 25 years later, in 1977. In 2004, ASIS was given legal permission for the first time to use firearms during undercover operations abroad. However, under current Australian law, this is allowed only as a last resort. ASIS personnel engaged in overseas operations are allowed to employ firearms in self-defense or to protect their agents —foreigners that have been recruited by ASIS to spy for Australia. However, the current government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues that ASIS personnel must be given broader powers to exercise “reasonable force” via the use of firearms during overseas operations.

In a speech on Wednesday, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said that the overseas environment in which ASIS operates today is more complex than that of 2004, when the current laws of engagement were enacted. She added that nowadays ASIS personnel work in more hazardous locations, including warzones, and carry out “more dangerous missions in new places and circumstances”. The government argues that the proposed changes will allow ASIS personnel to “protect a broader range of people and use reasonable force if someone poses a risk to an operation”. The new law will give ASIS officers permission to open fire against adversaries in order to protect parties other than themselves —such as hostages— or to avoid getting captured. This, says the government, will allow them to efficiently “protect Australia and its interests”. The last time that the Australian government flirted with the idea of giving ASIS broader powers to use firearms during undercover operations was in 2010. That year, the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd commissioned a multimillion dollar independent review of the Australian intelligence community’s mission and operations. The review proposed that ASIS personnel be allowed more powers to carry and handle weapons while engaging in “paramilitary activities” outside Australia. But the proposal was never enacted into law.

The latest proposal by the Morrison administration is scheduled to be discussed in the Australian Parliament today.

Joseph Fitsanakis
https://intelnews.org/2018/11/29/01-2446/

Digital giants led by Google, Facebook and Amazon have warned Australia against passing a "fundamentally flawed" law allowing security services to spy on encrypted communications among suspected criminals and terrorists. In a submission sent to parliament this week and made available to AFP Thursday, the Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI) said the legislation proposed by Australia's government would undermine rather than enhance the nation's security.

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-tech-giants-australia-law-encryption.html

New Zealand's international spy agency on Wednesday halted mobile company Spark from using Huawei equipment in its planned 5G upgrade, saying it posed a "significant network security risk."  The action follows a ban in Australia, where the Chinese telecommunications giant was blocked in August from rolling out Australia's 5G network due to security concerns. In New Zealand, Huawei has previously helped build mobile networks. In March, Spark and Huawei showcased a 5G test site across the street from the Parliament, in a publicity move that was attended by then Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran. The latest development could have diplomatic and economic implications for New Zealand, which relies on China as its largest trading partner but which is also part of the "Five Eyes" security alliance that includes the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia.

New Zealand was the first developed nation to sign a free-trade deal with China in 2008, and China buys billions of dollars of New Zealand's dairy exports each year, which are often used in making infant formula. New Zealand's previous conservative government had a close relationship with China. But over the past year under liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand has pulled back somewhat, embracing a warmer relationship with Japan and putting resources into the Pacific, in part to counter China's growing influence there. 

Spark is one of three main mobile network operators in New Zealand. The companies compete for customers over their own network of cell towers, using radio spectrum that is licensed from the government. Spark said it is disappointed with the decision by New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau. But the company said in a statement it's confident it can still launch its 5G network by July 2020. Spark said it had wanted to use Huawei 5G equipment in its planned Radio Access Network, which involves technology associated with cell tower infrastructure. The company said it has not yet had time to review the detailed reasoning behind the spy agency's decision, or whether it will take further steps.

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-zealand-halts-huawei-5g.html

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