IT is no secret that, since World War II, the Allied powers (US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) have through their "five eyes arrangement" indulged in industrial-scale surveillance of friendly nations in their region.
In the case of Australia and New Zealand, the latest Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revelations have revealed that this includes widespread hacking of South Pacific nations’ communications traffic.
This is not just phone hacking, but the interception of government telecommunications, telephone companies, internet communications, email and text messages.
The spooks have even accessed the main undersea cables that supply PNG, Indonesia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomons. In fact it seems they are sucking up so much information they don't know what to do with it all.
According to The Guardian reports on the recent Snowden leaks, Australian spies are targeting Indonesia's largest mobile phone network as well as the telecommunications systems of Australia's small Pacific island neighbours..
Leaked documents published in New Zealand late last week stated that Australia's top-secret electronic espionage agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), has been working with its New Zealand counterpart, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), to obtain comprehensive access to telecommunication networks across Indonesia and the South Pacific.
The documents show that ASD and GCSB spy intensively on small and vulnerable Pacific island countries, harvesting communications from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Tonga and French Polynesia.
Another US document published last year revealed that the ASD stole nearly 1.8 million encrypted master keys, which are used to protect private communications, from the Indonesian Telkomsel network and developed a way to decrypt almost all of them.
The ASD also accessed bulk call data from Indosat, Indonesia's domestic satellite telecommunications provider, including data on officials in various government ministries.
The top-secret NZ documents reveal details of cooperation between Australia and NZ to access South Pacific mobile phone networks, including in the Solomon Islands, where the two countries intelligence agencies "worked closely … to retain situational awareness as the Solomon Telekom network has expanded and evolved".
Fiji is another Australian intelligence priority revealed in the leaked documents, with GCSB reporting that it had assisted ASD's military support unit to conduct a "target systems analysis" on the command, control and communications of the Fiji government, military and police.
And it has been widely reported that, to get around local law that restricts spying on your own citizens in some countries, the members of Five Eyes simply other members to spy on their citizens.
With friends like Australia and New Zealand, who needs enemies?