Indonesia probes telcom firms over Oz spying allegations

Indonesia probes telcom firms over Oz spying allegations

JAKARTA - The government has begun probing domestic cellular providers amid growing suspicions that telecommunication companies also played role in the alleged tapping of phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife by Australian spies.

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring summoned on Thursday executives of the country's 10 cellular operators to his office, giving them a one-week deadline to undertake internal investigation.

"For now, we will let them to look into their own firms first. This tapping issue has become a very sensitive issue. If the operators are then proven to have played roles in the tapping, they will be charged under the 2008 Information and Electronic Transactions Law," Tifatul told a press conference after meeting with the telecommunication executives.

Indonesia and Australia are in a diplomatic row following reports by Australian media on Monday, releasing a 2009 "top secret" document suggesting that Australian intelligence tapped the cellular phones of the President, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, Vice President Boediono and some Cabinet members at the time.

Tifatul said it was understandable that cellular providers had fallen under suspicion. "Among the numerous possible methods to intercept cellular phone communications, the most well-known ones involve providers," he said.

The 10 companies whose executives were present at the meeting were Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom), Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), XL Axiata, Indosat, Bakrie Telecom, Smart Telecom, Smart Fren, Axis Telekom Indonesia, Sampoerna Telekomunikasi Indonesia and Hutchison 3 Indonesia.

Telkomsel CEO Alex J. Sinaga said his company was ready to carry out an audit and provide full clarification within a week.

"I believe our company has done business lawfully. We have been annually updating our security according to ISO standards," he said.

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