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UK and Australia partner on cyber security investment

The countries are set to invest in infrastructure for Indo-Pacific states as well, in the areas of energy, investment, and technology

Australia and the UK have partnered to fight against malicious state cyber actors and strengthen global technology supply chains, as well as jointly investing in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two countries have signed a Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership to help shape a positive technology environment and maintain an Internet that is open, free, peaceful, and secure.

The partnership will focus on four pillars, namely tackling malign actors, promoting the countries’ values and positive vision for technology, strengthening global technology supply chains, and harnessing technology to solve global challenges.

As part of its first initiatives, the UK and Australia will both seek to deter potential criminals by increasing the sanctions applied in cases relating to cyber crime, although it's unclear exactly what this will involve.

The partnership also includes a provision to help improve the capabilities of countries in the Indo-Pacific region to deal with cyber crime. This includes tackling the increasing threat from ransomware through a joint initiative delivered with the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime.

The UK and Australia will also develop an action plan on global standard setting to ensure global standards deliver on their security priorities, economic interests, and values.

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“Australia is committed to working with partners such as the UK to challenge malign actors who use technology to undermine freedom and democracy,” said Marise Payne, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs. “We will work with allies to maintain an internet environment that is open, free, peaceful and secure, consistent with international law, and which maximises opportunities for economic growth.”

The UK government said yesterday that it would agree to closer cooperation with Australia to boost opportunities for honest and reliable infrastructure investment for Indo-Pacific states, with the aim of ending strategic dependency on malign actors in the areas of energy, investment, and technology.

Australia has sought partnerships with key allies recently, including in December when it signed a CLOUD Act with the US to make it easier for the two countries to access and exchange data for investigations of serious crime, such as terrorism or ransomware attacks. The legislation simplifies the process of obtaining electronic data from communications service providers operating in another country.

The partnership builds on Australia's existing policy of investing in the Indo-Pacific region. In October 2021 it acquired telecoms company Digicel Pacific with Telstra for £1.15 billion, in what many regarded as a “political buy” to counter Chinese influence in the region. There were previous reports that state-owned China Mobile was looking to buy the company, which caused concern to the Australian government.

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