VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


Microsoft buys into AUKUS and Australian surveillance industry

(Above; original image by freepik0

An announcement that Microsoft was planning joint operations with Australian security agencies has revealed higher level Cold War security provision with the military-industrial complex. It has also revealed even closer diplomatic links between Australia and the United States, and a further escalation of hostilities directed toward China across the Indo-Pacific region. While ostensibly concerned with cyber-related defence and security concerns, the move will affect every level of Australian society, directly or indirectly. 

The planned $5 billion upgrade of Australian defence and security provision with cyber strategy by Microsoft had been additional to the already $9.9 billion allocated for the Redspice program with Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) last year. (1) There is little ambiguity about the planned upgrade: resting on the Redspice program where it was formally noted to be linked to the elite Five Eyes intelligence sharing facilities and the AUKUS defence and security for 'supporting a secure Indo-Pacific region', the new bumper Cyber Security Strategy (CSS) has been primarily directed toward countries considered adversaries; it is intended to be fully operational by 2030 as the 'second pillar' of AUKUS focussed upon 'technology sharing of advanced capabilities'. (2)

Two features of the CSS include: stronger diplomatic links between the US and Australia; and intelligence facilities primarily concerned with more efficient information and technology sharing through the use of AI. (3)

When viewed in the context of the present Cold War with China, an escalation of diplomatic hostilities will obviously occur, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region where Australia provides defence and security coverage of the southern half for 'US interests'.   

The announcement that Microsoft was already planning to increase its computer capacities by about 250 per cent during the next two years, reveals a stepping up of Cold War militarism; it rests upon a rapid uptake of AI. (4) When viewed in the context of the previous Cold War, there are far-reaching implications for Australians, directly by placing the country on a war-footing with China, and indirectly by domestic surveillance and monitoring of the civilian population.

There is little doubt that China remains the focus of US-led militarism sweeping the Indo-Pacific region; what, however, clouds the war-drive is the massive domestic surveillance of civilian populations. (5) Numerous US-led military exercises create fictional enemies in the warped minds of those lurking in the corridors of power inside the Pentagon.

Hidden in the official media releases was reference to 'Microsoft's collaboration with the ASD (Australian Signals Directorate – eds) to enhance cyber security for households and business', which can be viewed as contentious. (6) The previous Cold War was marked by massive domestic surveillance and espionage by those welding class and state power over ordinary citizens. Declassified documents, from the period, reveal civil liberties amounted to very little in those eyes of those welding power. 

Beginning in the 1960s, the US formalised Project X, for example, which was based at the US Intelligence Center and School at Port Holabird, Maryland; the project was designed to 'provide intelligence training to foreign friendly governments'. (7) Various 'lessons' provided for students, by US military officials, included extensive profiling of entire populations: 'they included lessons in creating black, grey or white lists of potential adversaries and in making block-by-block inventories of families and their assets to keep tabs of the population'. (8)   

The extensive use of intelligence agents to infiltrate 'a wide array of groups, including political parties, labor unions, youth and student groups, religious organisations, and publishing organisations', was considered a legitimate way for those welding class and state power to gather intelligence for profiling. (9) Today, there is little need for infiltration agents, the required intelligence can be easily collected from cyber-space and social media.

In fact, several years ago the US National Security Agency (NSA) closed a number of intelligence-gathering facilities because 'the NSA's attention shifted to finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Venizon and other US technical powers'. (10)

Studies of the US-led telecommunications interception facilities have concluded that the Echelon system has the ability to sift through millions of messages and select intelligence using 'trigger words' which are then used for higher-level analysis and profiling. (11)

The new CSS facilities also include Microsoft establishing nine 'new data centres in Australia', supposedly for protecting the country from cyber-criminals, while declassified documents from the previous Cold War have revealed US foreign policy and 'co-ordinated counter-intelligence activities world-wide … are conducted against … those who oppose the US Defence Department … during peacetime and all levels of conflict'. (12)  

The latter would appear to have taken priority over the former; the military practice was never discarded, only upgraded through the subsequent decades to the present day. The spies in cyber-space are not elsewhere, but within.

And those who fail to learn the lessons of history, have to repeat them over and over again:

                                          We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Microsoft to spend $5 billion 'turbocharging' AI in Australia, Australian, 24 October 2023; and, Redspice, The Guardian (U.K.), 29 March 2022.
2.     Guardian, ibid., 29 March 2022; and, US trip must send signal of unity, Editorial, Australian, 25 October 2023; and, Australian, ibid., 24 October 2023; and, Killing by Algorithm, Declassified Australia, 21 August 2023.
3.     Editorial, Australian, ibid., 24 October 2023.
4.     Microsoft, Australian, op.cit., 24 October 2023.
5.     See: China 'is right at the top' of US watch list, Australian, 26 October 2023; and, Indo-Pacific still 'top of the list', Editorial, Australian, 26 October 2023.
6.     PM enlists Microsoft for cyber war, Australian, 24 October 2023.
7.     Lost History: Project X, Drugs and Death Squads, Robert Parry, The Consortium Magazine, 31 March 1997.
8.     Army's Project X had wider audience,  The Washington Post, 6 March 1997.
9.     Ibid.
10.   The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020; and, Compromised encryption machines, The Washington Post, 17 February 2020; and, Crypto AG / Five Eyes, The Millennial Source, 15 February 2020; 'Crypto AG – the CIA', The Daily Telegraph (London), 12 February 2020.
11.   Espionage, Spies and Secrets, Richard M. Bennett, (London, 2002), Echelon, pp. 89-93.
12.   Turbocharging, Australian, op.cit., 24 October 2023; and, Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, Army Regulation 381-20, Section 1.5, Mission and Policy, page 1, (declassified, 15 November 1993).