In March, 1946, the U.S. and UK extended WWII intelligence-sharing practices in the form of the "United Kingdom - United States of America Agreement," which was later extended to include Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This Anglosphere alliance of intelligence operations is popularly (well, among a certain set of people) known as "Five Eyes."
While by most accounts the intelligence sharing (primarily signals intelligence, AKA eavesdropping and trolling) has been an open and collaborative process, the U.S. has on occasion been known to leverage control of information over its friends. For instance, in 1973, President Nixon is said to have briefly cut off Britain out of pique for the then-PM's pro-European policies.
Yet more recently, President Bush shut out Canada when that country initially balked at sending aging warships to the Gulf after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Three days after their screens went blank, Ottawa about-faced and sent potentially ill-equipped ships into harm's way. Intelligence sharing was restored. (Amusingly enough, rumor has it the Canadians dubbed their military operation in the Gulf "Operation Friction" in deference to the U.S. antics).
In late September, 2011, the U.S. and Australia announced that they would introduce cybersecurity into their existing bilateral defense treaty, citing, among other things, the ongoing cyber threat emanating from China. At the mid-November, 2011 annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) meetings between the Australian Minister for Defense and the U.S. Secretary Defense, it was further agreed to "intensify cooperation to meet emerging security challenges in...cyberspace."
Shortly thereafter, in December, 2011, the Australian Government banned Huawei from bidding on a state-sponsored next generation network due to "concerns over cyber attacks originating in China." This ban flew in the face of considerable political and commercial opposition, as well as the seemingly ironic fact that Huawei was already providing the equipment powering multiple large-scale commercial networks across Australia.
Operation Friction II?
Perhaps. If so, one has to wonder why the UK and Canada have thus far been allowed - for a number of years now - to let their respective markets operate freely and fairly in terms of Huawei's competitive presence. Did they say no? Have they been cut off from the American intelligence teat? "Who knows?" on the former and a highly unlikely "no" to the latter. Was the Australian cave a short-term measure?
Almost one-year after the Huawei ban - this month, January 2013 - the Australian Government announced the opening of an "Australian Cyber Security Center" (ACSC) as the hub of the Government's cyber security efforts to be responsible for analyzing the nature and extent of cyber threats"...and..."work closely with critical sectors and key industry partners to protect our nation's most valuable networks and systems."
The seemingly "brand-agnostic" structure and function of the ACSC, as announced, would seem to have great promise as effective, fact-based and technologically and commercially rational approaches to cyber threats. Perhaps here is the backbone necessary to stand-up to bullying allies with thinly-veiled political or protectionist agendas?
Am I suggesting that the U.S. does not care about cyber threats, particularly those from China?
Of course not.
But U.S. credibility on such issues is increasingly compromised by fringe elements that purport absurdities like banning select companies from telecom networks as supposed cyber security solutions. Any expert would tell you such proposals are laughable. All that's left is to call them what they are: mis-guided protectionism, sadly and dangerously, at the expense of real and effective cyber security solutions.