by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
australia, economic espionage, gchq, nsa, surveillance

bhp billton

Australia Spied On Japanese Companies To Help Its Industries Negotiate Trade Deals

from the not-many-terrorists-here dept

As more information comes to light about the global snooping being conducted by the NSA and GCHQ, it is becoming clearer that much of it had little to do with combating terrorism, as a recent EFF article makes plain. But most damaging to the idea that massive surveillance was justified, because it was to protect people from extreme threats, is the revelation that commercial espionage was also being conducted. So far, the chief example of that is in Brazil, but The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) now has information about large-scale industrial spying on Japanese companies carried out by Australian secret services:

BHP [BHP Billton -- the world's largest mining company] was among the companies helped by Australian spy agencies as they negotiated trade deals with Japan, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer says.

A former diplomat has also confirmed Australian intelligence agencies have long targeted Japanese companies. Writing in The Japan Times, Professor Gregory Clark said Australian companies were beneficiaries of intelligence operations.

"In Australia, favoured firms getting spy material on Japanese contract policies and other business negotiations used to joke how [it had] 'fallen off the back of a truck'," Professor Clark wrote.
The article has more details, but doesn't reveal how the materials were obtained. However, since Australia is part of the "Five Eyes" inner circle of snooping countries that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, it seems likely that information of interest from those partners also found its way to Australian companies. SMH quotes Clark as saying:
Business information is a main target for [intelligence] agencies
It will be interesting to see if later releases from Snowden's hoard of documents show any evidence of this Australian use of NSA materials for industrial espionage.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 3:46am

    That is a huge problem. The packages getting in the hands of select private sector people is the definition of market disruption. If anything can cause another financial market-crash in the western world, it would be revelations of semi-insider trading like this.

    If true, the damage of the spying is already done in theory. Now is the time for practical consequences. I say improve funding for counter-espionage massively and get the real dirty programs shut down. Radical moves are needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 4:09am

    It'd be interesting to see how many ISDS claims are made because of these confirmations? I'd have thought any company that has lost out on a contract due to confidential information being passed to the winning tenderer would have the grounds to sue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    This is actually good

    Good, can we drop the "TEHRORISTS!!" and "FOR DA National Security!!44" pretense now and move on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 6:11am


    They provide tips to business so that the business is more loyal to the spooks than the democracy.

    It's like barter.

    Same with politicians, are you seriously telling me they use the spying machine for business and not for politics? That there isn't a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-cover-yours? That Merkel was not political spying?

    And now we have domestic surveillance, do you think they draw a nice line suddenly between a political activist and a competing future politician?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Re: This is actually good

    Actually both of those still apply, as long as you twist your thinking to match that of a politician/spook.

    To them 'terrorist' is now anyone who threatens the status quo(hence the crackdown on whistlblowers/news-agencies using anti-terrorist laws), while 'National security' encompasses the power, both political and financial, of the country, which industrial espionage like this helps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    i want to see the reports of how it has benefited USA companies, particularly when it comes to 'deals' in which the USTR are involved, as well as those that have started to sue countries via the investor program! i bet most Trade Negotiations are based around information gained from spying. they have all been implemented to better suit USA companies and other governments have been twat enough to sign in to them. how bloody stupid is that, when your own people and industries are worse off? the idea is surely to increase benefits to your country, not someone elses

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:17am

    It's becoming increasingly obvious that the governments of this planet are being operated and funded by the multinational corporations and their benefit. I wait, with bated breath, for "Buy And Large, Inc" to take over the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    I believe most of Japan and Australia's internet traffic, is routed through California.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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