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Guest Blog by Phil Hart "Australia, Indonesia and Snowden"

Australia, Indonesia and Snowden

There seems to be a general consensus among governments across the world that the items published by Edward Snowden reflect real events. For the purposes of this piece, I will adopt that consensus.

The story of Australia spying on the President of Indonesia (Susilo Bambang Yudh... broke in mid-November. Briefly, Australia’s electronics agency attempted to monitor Mr Yudhoyono’s mobile phone activity, as well as targeting other senior figures within the Indonesian government. Mr Yudhoyono was predictably outraged.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, went on to say two days later that Australia should not have to apologise or explain itself. This was followed by an embarrassing climb-down three days afterwards with Mr Abbott writing a letter to Mr Yudhoyono, the contents of which have not been disclosed. There have been subsequent developments with Australia trying to draw this episode to a close, such as Mr Abbott’s proposal for talks with Indonesia.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has produced this opinion piece on why it has published the story. I find it to be very cogent, and serves as a useful backgrounder to spying, politics, and press freedom in this country.

By way of contrast, there is this report claiming in 2004 that Indonesia had been spying on Australian politicians, this from one of Indonesia’s former spy masters.

In the short term, it seems that this contretemps over recent spying by Australia will soon be over. In the longer term, it raises questions about how national governments will react to such situations. As I write, there is this breaking story about British how spies were listening in on An.... There is a particularly telling line in that story about special anti-bugging devices. I find this very reminiscent of the electronic countermeasures and counter-countermeasures that have been developed in military radars for decades. My guess is that while the diplomatic spats will continue, there will be a burgeoning of antisurveillance and anti-antisurveillance measures for years to come.

Now might be a good time to invest in anti-antisurveillance startup companies.

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