Asylum seekers from ‘people smuggling’ boat held as Peter Dutton blames surveillance failure

By Kristy Sexton-McGrath, Brendan Mounter and staff

Updated

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Video: Officials continue search for people after abandoned vessel found in Daintree river area (ABC News)

A search is continuing for two missing crew members who abandoned what Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has called a people smuggling boat in the Daintree River area in far north Queensland.

Fisherman in the region reported seeing several people abandon the boat and flee into the rainforest near Cape Kimberley, which is a known crocodile habitat, on Sunday morning.

The ABC understands 17 people were on board the vessel — believed to be from Vietnam — and two, including the captain, are still missing.

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said officers were assisting with the operational side of what was a federal matter.

“I understand that 15 people have been now detained on behalf of the Australian Border Force and they will be assessed by the Australian Border Force and dealt with in accordance with Australian law,” he said.

Mr Dutton said the boat’s arrival was the result of a surveillance failure.

“I want to confirm for you today that Australia, we believe, has received the first vessel, the first people smuggling venture in over 1,400 days,” Mr Dutton said.

“Clearly there’s been a failing when surveillance has not worked as it should in identifying this vessel or allowing this vessel to get as close to the coast as it has,” he said.

“But it’s a reminder that the people smugglers have not gone out of business,” he said.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officials, Queensland police and the State Emergency Service (SES) are continuing the search for the crew members still missing and said human safety was their top priority.

Police are searching cars and caravans at the Daintree River ferry to make sure no-one was stowed away.

‘Non-citizens located’

Earlier, an ABF spokesperson said it was investigating what it believed to be an illegal fishing vessel that ran aground north of Port Douglas.

“The ABF has a contingent of officers on-site and is grateful for the support being provided by Queensland Police Service,” the spokesperson said.

“We can confirm that a number of potential unlawful non-citizens have been located.

“The ABF and Department of Home Affairs will undertake the necessary border processes to establish circumstances around the arrival.

“As investigations into this matter are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Mr Dutton said the suspected asylum seekers would be deported.

“The threat of people smugglers hasn’t gone away and the arrival of this boat should be a very clear and timely message that people smugglers will put people onto boats, to take money from innocent, men women and children,” he said.

“We have been very clear that we won’t allow people who arrive illegally into our country to settle in this country. People will be deported from our country at the first available opportunity.”

SES acting local area director Peter Rinaudo said his crews worked until after midnight searching for those missing in the known crocodile habitat.

Mr Rinaudo said while details were scarce, police had requested 10 SES crews for a land search today.

“Crews will be briefed on the ground, but we will have crews searching through the mangroves today and two boat crews searching near the mouth of the Daintree River,” he said.

“It’ll be a hard slog, it’s still quite warm in there and it’ll be tough conditions for the guys.

“I hope the people, however many there are, get located — it’s not a nice area for them to be in.

“Obviously our main goal is to make sure our volunteers who have given up a day’s paid work get home safe.”

Boat sank on Sunday

Port Douglas Marine Rescue president Ross Wood said a concerned fisherman called him about 7:00am on Sunday after seeing the boat abandoned in the Daintree.

“The boat was taking on water. Later in the day, about midday, we were called to try and stop the boat from sinking but we couldn’t get there in time,” he said.

“It had sunk by the time we got out there — it was low tide so it wasn’t fully under water, but at high tide we’d suspect it would be submerged.

“It was in a state of disrepair with a lot of diesel drums on it.”

Mr Wood said they looked around for people but had not seen any.

“My suspicion is the people had left the boat long before the morning,” he said.

“It was just near the mouth of the Daintree, so 100 metres from shore or so.

“You have to wonder how a boat like this would get so far without being detected.”

Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said it was too soon to know the motives of the people who were travelling on the boat.

“It’s under investigation … the true motivation of what these people are up to will become apparent as the days go by,” he said.

“We’ll wait and see what the facts are … and how it got there and the journey that it took.”

‘No risk if they don’t go in the water’

Tour operator David White has been taking people up the Daintree River for 20 years and said there was little risk to those missing, unless they unknowingly waded into crocodile habitat.

“At the mouth of the river there’s beaches on both sides and there’s rainforest and mangroves,” he said.

“There are crocodiles in the river but not hundreds of them, just one or two.

“There is no risk if they don’t go in the water.

“But if they aren’t familiar with the area, if they go in the water behind the beach where the river is or to stand on the edge of the deep water where it’s murky, there is a risk [of a crocodile attack].

“It would be very hard going if they go through the rainforest. I hope they are found safe and well.”

Topics: immigration, community-and-society, federal—state-issues, government-and-politics, law-crime-and-justice, daintree-4873, cairns-4870, brisbane-4000, qld, Australia

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Amnesty International spearphished with government spyware — Naked Security

Pegasus spyware is supposed to be used solely by governments, to enable them to invisibly track criminals and terrorists

via Amnesty International spearphished with government spyware — Naked Security

Zimbabwe is signing up for China’s surveillance state, but its citizens will pay the price.

china.jpgBy Amy Hawkins

Daily life in China is gated by security technology, from the body scanners and X-ray machines at every urban metro station to the demand for ID numbers on social media platforms so that dangerous speech can be traced and punished. Technologies once seen as potentially empowering the public have become tools for an increasingly dictatorial government—tools that Beijing is now determined to sell to the developing world.

In 2015, the Chinese government launched its Made in China 2025 plan to dominate cutting-edge technological industries. This was followed up last year for plans for the country to be a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence by 2030 and to build a $150 billion industry. The developing world is a big part of these ambitions. But China doesn’t just want to dominate these markets. It wants to use developing countries as a laboratory to improve its own surveillance technologies.

Many parts of Africa are now essentially reliant on Chinese companies for their telecoms and digital services. Transsion Holdings, a Shenzhen-based company, was the No. 1 smartphone company in Africa in 2017. ZTE, a Chinese telecoms giant, provides the infrastructure for the Ethiopian government to monitor its citizens’ communications. Hikvision, the world’s leading surveillance camera manufacturer, has just opened an office in Johannesburg.

The latest is CloudWalk Technology, a Guangzhou-based start-up that has signed a deal with the Zimbabwean government to provide a mass facial recognition program. The agreement is currently on hold until Zimbabwe’s elections on July 30. But if it goes through, it will enable Zimbabwe, a country with a bleak record on human rights, to replicate parts of the surveillance infrastructure that have made freedoms so limited in China. And by gaining access to a population with a racial mix far different from China’s, CloudWalk will be better able to train racial biases out of its facial recognition systems—a problem that has beleaguered facial recognition companies around the world and which could give China a vital edge.

The CloudWalk deal is built on the back of a long-standing relationship between former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime, seen by China as an ideological ally, and Beijing. Current President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn into office in November 2017 after a military coup forced Mugabe to resign after 37 years of increasingly repressive rule. But activists fear that Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former consigliere, will continue the patterns of his predecessor, especially if his regime is backed up with new security technology.

The deal between CloudWalk and the Zimbabwean government will not cover just CCTV cameras. According to a report in the Chinese state newspaper Science and Technology Daily, smart financial systems, airport, railway, and bus station security, and a national facial database will all be part of the project. The deal—along with dozens of other cooperation agreements between Harare and Chinese technology and biotech firms—was signed in April. Like every other foreign deal done by a Chinese firm of late, it has been wrapped into China’s increasingly all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.

Like every other foreign deal done by a Chinese firm of late, it has been wrapped into China’s increasingly all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.

Like every other foreign deal done by a Chinese firm of late, it has been wrapped into China’s increasingly all-encompassing Belt and Road Initiative.

The CloudWalk deal is the first Chinese AI project in Africa. Google is opening its first Africa AI research center in Ghana this year, but Eric Olander, founder of the China Africa Project—a podcast and online resource that examines the relationship between China and Africa—noted that many Western companies “aren’t willing to make that step that the Chinese are willing to do. … [The Chinese] are willing to make an investment in a market as volatile as Zimbabwe, where companies from other countries are not.”

Indeed, with massive state and private backing for AI projects—according to a CB Insights report, nearly half of global investment in AI went to Chinese start-ups last year, surpassing the United States for the first time—Chinese companies can afford to take risks. CloudWalk itself was the recipient of a $301 million grant from the Guangzhou municipal government.

“We are concerned about the deal, given how CloudWalk provides facial recognition technologies to the Chinese police,” said Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We have previously documented [the Chinese] Ministry of Public Security’s use of AI-enabled technologies for mass surveillance that targets particular social groups, such as ethnic minorities and those who pose political threats to the government.”

Some Zimbabweans are concerned about how their data will fare in China. Andy, who asked that only his first name be used, is studying for a Ph.D. at Beijing Normal University. For him, “the question is what the Chinese company will do with our identities. … It sounds like a spy game.” He also says that he “know[s] for a fact” that “the Zimbabwe government will use this tech to try and control people’s freedom.”

In Zimbabwe, freedom of expression has long been curtailed or monitored by various means. In 2015, Mugabe accepted a gift of cyber surveillance software from the Iranian government, including IMSI catchers, which are used to eavesdrop on telephone conversations. In 2016, he cited China as an example of social media regulation that he hoped Zimbabwe could emulate.

British ex-spies warn of risks dealing with Chinese telecom Huawei

By Europe bureau chief Lisa Millar

Two of Britain’s top cyber security experts have warned against ignoring Huawei, saying banning the Chinese telecommunications giant is not an option for the West.

Robert Hannigan, former director of Britain's intelligence and security organisation GCHQ.

“In the future there will be lots of technologies that we need where the best provider in the world and the best technology is Chinese,” said Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain’s intelligence and security organisation GCHQ.

“What are we going to do about this?

“Are we going to cut ourselves off from this, or are we going to manage the risk?”

The answer, according to Mr Hannigan and Nigel Inkster — a 30-year veteran of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) — is to accept that with risks come rewards.

“What we need to do is look at this at the broader strategic context of who controls and dominates these technologies at a global level in the 21st century,” Mr Inkster said.

Huawei entered the British market in 2001, and by 2005 had signed off on its first UK contract with BT (formerly British Telecom) as it embarked on a multi-billion-pound upgrade of its network.

“I think those in the intelligence and security community were from the outset aware of the problem that this relationship could cause,” Mr Inkster said.

“But one has to bear in mind that … this was taking place in a different era, we were still in a kind of end-of-history moment.

“There was simply less awareness within government as a whole of these security issues, and frankly less of a disposition to take them particularly seriously.”

The Cell

In 2010, the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) was created — otherwise known as The Cell.

In a nondescript brown brick building in an industrial site 90 minutes north of London sits a team of cyber security experts, employed by Huawei and overseen by the British Government.

Positions advertised for the Banbury facility say Huawei is seeking those looking to build a “rewarding career in cyber security”.

Their job is to ensure the integrity of Huawei’s products, which include equipment used across the UK’s fibre-optic network.

It is a model that has been suggested for Australia, to ease concerns about security to the critical national infrastructure.

But the July annual report from the board that oversees The Cell raised concerns, using language not seen in its three previous reports.

“Identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management,” the report said.

“Due to areas of concern exposed through the proper functioning of the mitigation strategy and associated oversight mechanisms, the oversight board can provide only limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated.”

Its concerns were sent to the British Prime Minister’s national security adviser.

“It looks like a bit of a warning shot has been fired by the UK Government,” Mr Hannigan said, who until last year oversaw the board that issued the report.

“It’s [The Cell] working up to a point, is the way I’d put it.

“The question is, what’s the alternative? Is the alternative banning Huawei better? I don’t think it is actually.”

Huawei welcomed the UK report and the feedback.

“It confirms the collaborative approach adopted by Huawei, the UK Government and operators is working as designed, meeting obligations and providing unique, world-class network integrity assurance through ongoing risk management,” a spokesperson for Huawei told the ABC.

“The report concludes that HCSEC’s operational independence is both robust and effective.”

Huawei insisted it was under more scrutiny than any other telco and The Cell had been proven as the best model for compliance.

The risk

But both Mr Inkster and Mr Hannigan agreed there were risks to dealing with Huawei.

“Huawei has relied very substantially on Chinese Government investment and technological assistance to develop rapidly to the point where they are,” Mr Inkster said.

“And if the Chinese Government ask them to do something, they’re not in the position to refuse.

“The challenge for those who simply want to ban it is, what’s the alternative?” Mr Hannigan reiterated.

“The challenge for those who think they can manage it is — are you kidding yourselves?

“There is simply no magic solution.”

Topics: world-politics, government-and-politics, defence-and-national-security, information-and-communication, science-and-technology, united-kingdom, china

The Intelligence Cycle 101

intel cycle

So, if intelligence is the product that results from processing raw information, just what does it mean to speak of an intelligence cycle?

Simply put, the “intelligence cycle” is the process used to make intelligence as focused, accurate and effective as possible.

Direction begins the process. Intelligence personnel are told what the leadership wants to know. The first step is then to think hard about what must be found out to tell them that. As the old saying goes, if you really want to know something important, you have to ask the right questions.

Collection comes next. This is the part that most people immediately imagine when they think of intelligence. The raw information needed to figure things out must be collected from all of the various sources.

Processing can be the hard part. All of the raw data (which can be a lot) has to be analysed, and the right conclusions figured out. This is the stage that tends to absorb most of the people working behind closed doors in intelligence agencies.

Dissemination is the final stage. This is the process of getting the final product from the intelligence staff that produced it in the previous stage, out to all the people who actually need it.

The final point — an important one — is that as shown in the diagram here, the cycle feeds back on itself. Why? To ensure that assessments continue to be refined, the intelligence stays up to date, and that it generally responds to what the leadership really needs.

Different intelligence agencies around the world have slightly different versions of this cycle, but they all say pretty much the same thing.

Below is another example which I use – slightly different but pretty much the same thing.

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Control Room Egornomics 101 : Visual Support (PIRs)

IMG_20180225_231919.jpg

PIR stands for Priority Information Requirements and it is a list of information gathering tasks listed in order of priority depending on the urgency, necessity and availability of resources required to support the execution of an operational decision. An effective support function of a CCTV control room is to deliver PIRs to all members of an organisation. PIRs is the key to facilitating visibility and support from an organization, particularly senior management.

The key issue is to determine the nature of the security support that the CCTV control room is to fulfil, and then support CCTV operators in fulfilling this function by ensuring that security is appropriately prioritised in their day to day working routines. In practice it is rarely the case that CCTV control rooms fulfil only a security function – in addition they may act as an information point for queries, or a gatherer of evidence or provide administrative duties to the organisation in which they are based. A CCTV operator, undertaking a variety of tasks that fall under each of these functions, will inevitably have to prioritise particular tasks over others when the control room gets busy. This is discussed further in the WATCH components.

Control Room Ergonomics 101: F.A.S.T

IMG_20180225_155012

It should be remembered that the key goal of decision makers at times of crisis is to consider information rather than to derive it, so the control room, equipment and systems in place should be set up to facilitate this. FAST information can make the difference in critical situations. It needs to be registered and easily accessible – in other words it should be Frequent, Accurate, and Systematic and in a Timely manner. Fast information gathering is a CCTV surveillance operator’s core function.  Surveillance is the operation of learning trends, behavioural traits and activities that change in a given environment. Collecting information from CCTV surveillance and other resources is essential for building a detailed knowledge of persons, vehicles and areas under surveillance.

There are two types of information that a surveillance operator requires when executing surveillance:

• Basic Information Requirements and

• Priority Information Requirements – PIRs

In Basic Information Requirements, you determine what you need to know. It also enables you to answer your Priority Information Requirements (PIRs). PIRs are mostly driven by your Surveillance Supervisory Team (SST) who determines what they want to confirm, deny, or where to fill-in the gaps. This information helps the SST in determining a course of action and be able to make the key decisions during the execution. Some information derived from the execution of information gathering will be converted to PIRs:

Prioritize and then develop your PIRs

Once you have compiled your information requirements, determined your Surveillance Supervisory Team’s requirements first and rank in order information requirements from most critical to least critical. You can’t answer all of them due to time constraints and resources. These are the tasks that you just do not have the time or resources for. They should be put at the bottom of the list of priorities.

In crafting your information requirements, you want to address the following five “W’s”:

  • What is it you are looking for?
  • Where is it that you want to look?
  • When is it that you want to look?
  • Why is this information so valuable to achieving your Primary Goal?
  • Who is it that needs the information?

However, you can collect all the information you require, but if there is no plan to get it to the right people at the right time to make operational decisions – it is fairly useless.