‘Aussie firm agrees to store phone calls’

Telstra stored data for potential surveillance by US intelligence.

Australiaâ„¢s largest phone company, Telstra, has agreed to store huge volumes of internet data and phone calls between America and other countries under a pact inked with the US, reports say.

The electronic communications were stored under a 2001 agreement that the telecommunications company, which was at the time half-owned by the Australian government, and its subsidiary Reach had signed with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice.

According to a copy of the agreement posted online by news website Crikey on Friday, the US government was allowed to store Å“domestic communications” – with the possibility of employing them for spying – with the help of underwater cables of the Reach.

The deal defined domestic communications as those conducted within the US but could also expand to include communications which Å“originate or terminate” in America.

Meanwhile, Telstra had to report to Washington every three months on whether any foreign non-government entities had demanded to gain access to their communications. The company also agreed to complete a compliance report every year which could not be accessed using freedom of information laws.

Under the deal, all communications within the US using the cables was collected in a facility on Americaâ„¢s soil which was run exclusively by US staff.

Å“This is an extraordinary breach of trust, invasion of privacy, and erosion of Australiaâ„¢s sovereignty,” Australiaâ„¢s Greens party Senator Scott Ludlam said in reaction to the revelation.

The disclosure of the agreement between the Australian company and Washington comes after American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed US spying efforts.

Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

The fugitive leaker also revealed that the NSA spies on European Union offices in New York, Washington and Brussels.

MR/HN

Republished with permission from: Press TV