Tag Archives: nsw police at work with your phone

Long running police bugging scandal to become the subject of NSW parliamentary inquiry

BUGGING SCANDAL TO SOON ROCK THE NSW POLICE FORCE IN AUSTRALIA

Greens justice spokesman David Shoebridge image www.intelagencies.com

The police bugging scandal that has plagued top levels of the NSW force for more than a decade will be examined by a NSW parliamentary inquiry with concerns the Ombudsman has taken too long to finalise his investigation.

The state government tasked the Ombudsman in October 2012 with inquiring into allegations surrounding illegal bugging by the NSW Police’s Special Crime and Internal Affairs and the NSW Crime Commission between 1999 and 2001 and the investigation that followed into it.

But after more than two years, the $3 million inquiry, dubbed Operation Prospect and held behind closed doors, has released no specific details.

Now, The Shooters and Fishers Party, with the support of Labor and The Greens, will establish an inquiry that will examine the bugging allegations, the subsequent police investigation into those allegations and the Ombudsman’s inquiry. It will report by February 2015

Shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch said Labor was in support of the inquiry because the original matters involving allegations of police bugging “were extremely serious”.

“It’s taken way too long to get to this stage,” he said. “These things will undoubtedly benefit from ventilation in public”.

The Greens justice spokesman David Shoebridge said the inquiry would remove the secrecy behind the police bugging scandal which has affected the most senior ranks of the NSW Police.

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The current Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, and a current Deputy Commissioner, Catherine Burn, worked at SCIA at relevant times. One of the detectives SCIA was bugging was Nick Kaldas, now also a Deputy Commissioner.

“What we have is a secret police investigation that obtained secret warrants, that was then reviewed by a secret police investigation and is now being considered by a seemingly endless secret Ombudsman’s inquiry,” Mr Shoebridge said. “This secrecy must stop.”

Between 1999 and 2001, the  SCIA and the crime commission ran a covert investigation codenamed Operation Mascot into allegedly corrupt NSW police.

Central to Mascot was a serving NSW police officer, codenamed M5, who went to work for SCIA and the commission, wearing a wire to bug his colleagues, some of whom were undoubtedly corrupt. But many of those he sought to entrap were honest police.

Some listening device warrants obtained by SCIA and the commission contained more than 100 names, mainly of former and serving police.

In many cases, the affidavits presented to Supreme Court judges contained no information whatsoever that would justify the bugging, and Fairfax Media has established that some of the information in the affidavits was false.

Many police involved in the case believe numerous criminal offences have been committed by some officers of the SCIA and the commission.

Complaints by police, including some from within SCIA itself, were internally investigated by NSW police from Strike Force Emblems as far back as 2004. But inquiries were stymied by the secrecy provisions of the NSW Crime Commission, which refused to co-operate or hand over crucial documents.

Successive governments refused to release the Emblems reports – but they were obtained by Fairfax Media. The reports said “criminal conduct” and revenge might have been behind the mass bugging.

The first Emblems report found there may have been “criminal conduct” involved in the bugging of 100 serving and former police.

Even M5, the NSW police officer doing the undercover bugging, confessed that in some cases he was “settling old scores” and “assisting, nurturing corruption”.

Henry Sapiecha

NSW Police use hacking software to spy on computers and smartphones: WikiLeaks data

Martin Muench, managing director of Gamma International, poses for a photo in 2012 image www.ispysite.com

Martin Muench, managing director of Gamma International, poses for a photo in 2012.

NSW Police are using sophisticated hacking software to spy on smartphones and computers during criminal investigations, according to documents published by WikiLeaks on Monday.

FinFisher, also known as FinSpy, is surveillance software sold by German company Gamma International. The software is typically used by intelligence and policing agencies to break into computers and mobiles and can secretly log keystrokes and take screenshots.

It can also remotely capture Skype and instant messenger conversations and take control of computer microphones and web cameras to listen in.

The documents show NSW Police purchased approximately $2.5 million worth of licences for the software, starting in September 2011. They reveal the agency has held nine licences for FinSpy, FinFly, FinIntrusion, FinSpy Mobile and FinFireWire over the past three years.

NSW Police is named as the only Australian agency among many around the world to have spent a collective $72 million on the software.

NSW Police did not deny the spyware’s use.

“Given this technology relates to operational capabilility [sic], it’s not appropriate to comment,” a police spokesman said.

Under NSW law, police can apply for “covert” search warrants, which allow them to search a computer without its owner’s knowledge; this includes online accounts and the like. The warrants are obtained from a Supreme Court judge who is “eligible” to grant them.

In early March 2009, then NSW premier Nathan Rees unveiled a suite of new laws, one of which he said would allow police to gain “remote access” to computers for seven days at a time or up to a total of 28 days or longer in exceptional circumstances. The laws were passed later that month.

“This could including cracking codes and searching computers for evidence of child porn, drug running and money laundering,” Rees said then.

“FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world,” said Julian Assange, the Australian WikiLeaks editor in chief, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain.

Julian Assange has criticised Germany for allowing FinFisher to exist.www.ispysite.com

“The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise. Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher? This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FinFisher including by tracking down its command and control centres.”

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The leaked documents published by WikiLeaks have come to light following the hacking of Gamma International in August, which exposed an estimated 40 gigabytes of internal data from the firm detailing the operations and effectiveness of the FinFisher suite of surveillance platforms.

Sydney software architect and IT security consultant Troy Hunt said it was no surprise that government agencies, including NSW Police, were making use of the spyware.

But he said its use raised a number of questions, such as whether police were obliged to remove the spyware after its use and whether due legal process was followed in installing it.

He said the software gave its users the ability to virtually look over the shoulders of any target. More often than not he said the software was able to be installed remotely by its users.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Stephen Blanks said he was uncomfortable with the software’s use.

“The use of software like this to enable law-enforcement agencies to remotely access computer networks raises particular concerns and it is vital that there is sufficient information made available about the use of [the associated] warrants so that the public can be satisfied that they are not being abused.”

In one leaked document, WikiLeaks identifies a NSW Police user of the spyware emailing Gamma saying that warrants authorised the use of FinFisher. In the same ticket, the user asks Gamma if some new capabilities can be introduced to make its use conform to Australian standards.

In another email, a NSW Police user complains about access to an Apple Mac user’s computer.

“When a mac target is online, there is a configuration link which allows updating the configuration of the target and trojan,” the NSW Police user says in the ticket. “However when the target is offline, there isnt [sic] any configuration link. This only appears on a mac target … Should there be a configuration link on a mac target when it is offline?”

In another email, a NSW Police user complains about an update which broke the software.

“From our logs, there appears to have been an update early this morning which has broken the Agents [sic] access to the server. If at all possible, we require urgent assistance as we are waiting to conduct an install tonight,” the user says.

Last year a freedom of information request by an Australian citizen to the Australian Federal Police seeking information about whether it used FinFisher was rejected by the agency.

Henry Sapiecha