Australian premier in ministerial spying scandal

Nathan Rees

Nathan Rees

The premier of Australia’s state of New South Wales has been accused of trying to spy on local government officials by planning to install telephone surveillance equipment in their work offices. Nathan Rees, a Labour Party politician, who is one of six Australian state chief executives, is reportedly planning to employ phone-tracking software in an attempt to “put the screws on suspected dissidents” within his cabinet. The technology in question appears to be a real-time phone call data monitoring system, which records basic information of telephone exchanges (i.e. who calls whom, at what time, etc), but not their content. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Rees’ envoys have already contacted at least one telephone surveillance equipment provider, KNet Technology, whose representatives say they briefed the Premier’s people. Following news reports about the alleged spying scandal, Rees’ office issued a strong denial of the spying claims, suggesting that the telephone monitoring software were needed to save taxpayers’ money on telephone bills, by making it “easy to see if telephone companies were charging customers as per their contract”. The press release added that “[i]t is routine for audits to be carried out of telecommunication contracts to ensure value for money”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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