Telstra believes its subsea cables can't be tapped

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Telstra believes its subsea cables can't be tapped

Any more than the next cable, anyway.

Telstra has backed the security attributes of its subsea cable network, expressing a belief that its network isn't vulnerable to unlawful interception.

The carrier made the statement in a submission (pdf) to a Senate inquiry where confusion reigns over whether the issue of unlawful taps by surveillance agencies is part of a proposed bill of law.

Although Telstra initially stated it "does not believe that its submarine cables are vulnerable to unlawful interception", it later qualified the statement:

"Telstra does not believe that its submarine cables are more vulnerable to unlawful interception than any other cables, but recognises that there is a need to ensure regulation remains relevant and appropriate to support the development and security of critical infrastructure," it said.

"Any reforms in this area needs to maintain a balance between the public interest objectives, implementation costs to industry, the need to maintain high levels of network integrity and security, and the legitimate community concerns about the security and privacy of customer information that is carried over these cables."

Telstra has been drawn several times into the fallout from last year's revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had been wiretapping subsea cable networks.

Telstra — like other subsea operators — makes no secret that it meets any statutory obligations it has with respect to facilitating lawful requests from surveillance agencies.

The carrier faced criticism last year over a 2001 agreement with US authorities that provided access to Reach cables for surveillance purposes; however, this was shown to be a statutory obligation for operators wanting to run cable networks in and out of the US.

It was also criticised for its choice of network monitoring products.

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