Shocked Telstra labels Conroy "unprecedented" demand as risk to national security
The original request from Minister Conroy will be used to inform national and international competitors who are planning to build a AUD $4.7 billion national fibre broadband network. The new Labor Government promised Australians the fibre network before last year’s Federal election.
Telstra spokesperson, Andrew Maiden, has confirmed that Telstra had indeed received the letter, and told iTWire that the request was unprecedented. Mr Maiden also indicated that information required to be divulged had implications for national security.
“In the interests of progressing the FTTN network that Australia needs, we want to provide the Government with the information it seeks,” Mr Maiden said in an email.
“We had not expected such a wide-ranging request, so the information will need to be assembled. In fact the detail embedded in this request -- unprecedented in Australia -- is also without precedent in overseas markets.
“Consider, for example, Singapore where an FTTN tender is underway -- and SingTel is not being asked to divulge commercially sensitive information or law enforcement-related information either to the government or to competitors.
“This information is critical to national security, law enforcement, and the operation of emergency services like Triple-0. This information is also sensitive from a national security perspective.
“Given the potential risks posed to national security and law enforcement by this request, we are obligated to consider the interests and concerns this request implies for the operations of our government customers...which we will do. “
Mr Maiden’s comments ended with: “We will cooperate with the Minister and formally respond to his request in the coming days.”
As the incumbent, dominant national telco, Telstra’s network is clearly the largest, most complex – and most intertwined with Australia’s national defence organisations such as ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation), the Department of Defence (DoD), the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD).
Telstra also says it has serious concerns about sharing information which would otherwise break a law that is punishable by two years in prison.
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