Wikileaks emails reveal Australian police and security forces linked to infamous Hacking Team

By @Shayani92 on
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Emails published by Wikileaks have revealed that at least four Australian companies have tried to sell a range of controversial spyware and suspicious tools used for surveillance to Australian legal agencies as well as foreign governments.

The spyware that the four Australian companies tried selling was developed by the same Italy-based Hacking Team recently subjected to criticism for its connections to repressive regimes. The bulk of the emails published by Wikileaks after hacking into the company’s database exposed the lucrative deals that the private surveillance industry made with the team. The ABC reported that four Australian companies - Providence Australasia, Miltect, Criterion Solutions and GRC360 - have been in contact with Hacking Team.

Wikileaks revealed that the Australian companies acted as mediators between the Australian Federal Police, Defence and Indonesian intelligence, and the Hacking Team. ASIO and the AFP are also believed to be more closely linked to the notorious Italian Hacking Team than previously thought - a series of emails reportedly suggested that Criterion Solutions, one of the Australian companies identified, was clearly representing ASIO. Criterion Solutions further reported earnings of $5 million from the Australian Defence Force for selling out items like communication devices and surveillance safety aircraft.

Kevin McKinnon, director of Miltect, another company identified in the emails, told the ABC that his company provides various services to the Indonesian government agencies, which include the Bureau National Intelligence, Bureau National Narcotics, Military and National Police. "These products and services include secure communications, tactical intelligence products, covert surveillance and interception equipment, he confirmed. However, Mr McKinnon declined to conduct an interview with the ABC, citing the need for legal advice.

Meanwhile, former AFP officer Nigel Phir has insisted on the need for greater transparency around the companies and their contractors.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam also criticised the hackers for their links to repressive regimes, noting that the corporate culture of Hacking Team was violative of the rule of law and human rights, and that it would be difficult to track them down because they work with sub-contractors & affiliates. 

However, he was also critical of the Australian companies involved in selling spyware. "It's the first time we've seen evidence of an Australian company involved in that way. It shouldn't surprise us to know that Australian companies are participating in this really shadowy international network of companies," he said.

Remote Control System, which is the Hacking Team’s main product, can tap into any communications before they are encrypted. It is believed that once a mobile or a computer is infected, the tool can easily access passwords, record Skype calls and switch on the microphone or camera of a device.

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