Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has sought a “ferocious commitment” from French President Francois Hollande over data security after the leak of confidential information on the Indian Scorpene submarines made by a French firm which has also won a 50 billion dollar Australian submarines contract.
Over 22,000 pages of secret data on the capabilities of six highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French defence company DCNS were leaked. The data leak reportedly happened overseas.
Earlier this year DCNS won the contract for the 50 billion dollar deal to build Australia’s new fleet of submarines.
Turnbull said the leak had no direct security implications for Australia, because the submarine DCNS will build for Australia — the Shortfin Barracuda — is “completely different” to the Scorpene.
“Of course it’s a different submarine to the one that we are going to build in collaboration with the French, but it is absolutely critical to continue to maintain the highest level of security.”
Following the embarrassing document leaks on the Submarines for Indian navy, Turnbull asked the French President on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou to ensure there was a “ferocious commitment to the data security”, ABC News reported.
The report said Hollande said that the leak from French company DCNS was unacceptable.
“Yes, we’ve already raised these issues with the French. And the President and we’ve had a brief discussion about it already, and we will be addressing it in more detail,” Turnbull said.
“Maintaining absolute maximum security, total security on information of this kind is critical. The leaks of the material relating to Scorpene submarine are very, very regrettable,” he said yesterday.
Turnbull emphasised the importance of data security and the two leaders noted the significance of the defence relationship between the two countries.
Turnbull said the most damaging vulnerability in computer systems was “warmware”, company or government insiders, the source of the leak. The French company DCNS has been awarded the USD 50 billion submarine project for Australia.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne this morning said he was confident the Scorpene leak had no security implications for Australia.
“This is a very old set of documents, they’re not top secret, they bear no relation at all to the submarines we will be building with the French,” he said.