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Monday, 16 April 2018 05:29

Labor, Greens to probe granting of Protected status to Microsoft Featured

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The Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens have reacted to the controversy over Microsoft gaining Protected status for accessing Australian Government data by some of its services, with the former saying it had sought a briefing with the minister concerned and the Greens saying a full explanation was needed from the Australian Signals Directorate.

In response to a query from iTWire, a spokesperson for Labor shadow minister for cyber security, Gai Brodtmann, said she had taken note of the concerns about "access, the servers , accreditation and the consumer guide".

Last week, as iTWire and a number of other tech outlets reported, the Australian Signals Directorate had issued a consumer guide containing a number of fiats about the services that Microsoft claimed to have received Protected status for on 3 April.

The company contested this, issuing a long statement to iTWire.

Microsoft became the fifth provider to be certified to offer such services, with the others being Dimension Data, Vault Systems, Sliced Tech and Macquarie Government. But in the other four cases, there has been no consumer guide issued by the ASD.

A senior IT industry source claimed to iTWire on Friday that the certification had been granted despite the company allegedly not meeting all the needed criteria, something Microsoft again denied.

Brodtmann's spokesperson added that she had sought a briefing from Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor, who was present at the function on 3 April when Microsoft announced it had gained Protected status.

iTWire also sought a reaction from Taylor, but his spokesperson said that since the decision on granting this status was not political, but technical, he would not be making any comment.

Australian Greens digital affairs spokesman Senator Jordon Steel-John was more forthright with his criticism of the whole affair, saying he expected a full response from the ASD about the issue.

"We fully expect the ASD to provide a prompt and comprehensive response and explanation of discrepancies in their approach to granting Protected status to Microsoft; there is no room for cutting corners or providing favours to some companies," Senator Steele-John told iTWire in response to a query.

"This government has a very poor track record in keeping information safe and if they can't even adhere to their own standards then what hope is there for improvement in the future?"

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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