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Australian Signals Directorate
Slogan: Reveal their secrets ... Protect our own
Agency overview
Formed 12 November 1947; ago (1947-11-12)
Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Australia
Headquarters Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
35°17′43″S 149°08′55″E / 35.2952°S 149.1487°E / -35.2952; 149.1487Coordinates: 35°17′43″S 149°08′55″E / 35.2952°S 149.1487°E / -35.2952; 149.1487
Minister responsible the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Defence
Agency executive Dr Paul Taloni PSM, Director
(As of November 2014)
Parent agency Department of Defence

Australian Signals Directorate (ASD; until 2013: Defence Signals Directorate, DSD) is an Australian government foreign intelligence collection agency responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information security (INFOSEC). ASD's role within UKUSA Agreement (Five Eyes) is to monitor SIGINT in South Asia and East Asia. The ASD also houses the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

The unit was established in 1947 by executive order as the Defence Signals Bureau within the Department of Defence, and underwent several name changes until its current name ASD was adopted in 2013. ASD was converted to a statutory body by the Intelligence Services Act 2001. ASD is based in Canberra, at the Defence Department Headquarters at Russell Offices.[1] As of November 2013 its Director is Dr Paul Taloni, replacing Ian McKenzie on his retirement.


The principal functions of ASD are to collect and disseminate foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and to provide information security products and services to the Australian Government and Australian Defence Force (ADF), its foreign partners and militaries.[2]

ASD operates at least three receiving stations:

ASD also maintains a workforce at Pine Gap in central Australia.[4]

ADSCS and Shoal Bay are part of the United States signals intelligence and ECHELON analysis network.[5][6] These stations also contribute signals intelligence for many Australian Government bodies, as well as the other UKUSA partners.

Electronic warfare operators in the Royal Australian Corps of Signals work closely with ASD. 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) at Borneo Barracks, Template:QLDcity, Queensland is also associated with ASD.[citation needed]. In addition, it has been reported that many Australian embassies and overseas missions also house small facilities which provide a flow of signals intelligence to ASD.[7]

UKUSA Agreement (Five Eyes)

Australia joined the UKUSA Agreement in 1948,[8][9] a multilateral agreement for cooperation in signals intelligence between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The alliance is also known as the Five Eyes.[10] Other countries, known as "third parties", such as West Germany, the Philippines, and several Nordic countries also joined the UKUSA community.[11][12] As the Agreement was a secret treaty, its existence was not even disclosed to the Australian Prime Minister until 1973, when Gough Whitlam insisted on seeing it.[13] The existence of the UKUSA Agreement was discovered by the Australian government during the 1973 Murphy raids on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). After learning about the agreement, Whitlam discovered that Pine Gap, a secret surveillance station close to Alice Springs, Australia, had been operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[14][15][16][17] Pine Gap is now operated jointly by both Australia and the United States. The existence of the Agreement was not disclosed to the public until 2005.[18] On 25 June 2010, for the first time, the full text of the agreement was publicly released by the United Kingdom and the United States, and can now be viewed online.[11][19] Under the agreement, ASD's intelligence is shared with UKUSA signals intelligence partner agencies:


The Directorate has operated under a number of different names since its founding:[citation needed]

  • 1947 – Defence Signals Bureau established within the Department of Defence
  • 1949 – name changed to Defence Signals Branch
  • 1964 – name changed to Defence Signals Division
  • 1978 – name changed to Defence Signals Directorate on recommendation of the Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security (Hope Commission)
  • 2013 – name changed to Australian Signals Directorate[20]


As of November 2014 its Director is Dr Paul Taloni (PSM), replacing Ian McKenzie on his retirement. Taloni was previously deputy director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) and chief of staff for former Defence Minister Stephen Smith.[21][22]

See also


  1. "History: DSD Defence Signals Directorate". 2011. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. 
  2. "About DSD: DSD Defence Signals Directorate". 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dorling, Philip (1 November 2013). "Listening post revealed on Cocos Islands". Canberra Times. 
  4. Leslie, Tim; Corcoran, Mark (19 November 2013). "Explained: Australia's involvement with the NSA, the US spy agency at heart of global scandal". ABC. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  5. "Tracking down the masters of terror". The Age. 17 March 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  6. Adshead, Gary (10 June 2001). "Secret WA spy base". The Sunday Times (Perth). p. 20. 
  7. Dorling, Philip (31 October 2013). "Exposed: Australia's Asia spy network". Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  8. "Declassified UKUSA Signals Intelligence Agreement Documents Available". National Security Agency. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  9. Also known as the Quadripartite Agreement or Quadripartite Pact (EPIC, Privacy International (2002). "Privacy and Human Rights 2002: An International Survey of Privacy Rights and Developments". Epic, 2002. p. 100. ISBN 1-893044-16-5. )
  10. Cox, James (December 2012). "Canada and the Five Eyes Intelligence Community". Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Norton-Taylor, Richard (25 June 2010). "Not so secret: deal at the heart of UK-US intelligence". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  12. Gallagher, Ryan (2014-06-19). "How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet". The Intercept. Retrieved 2014-09-27. 
  13. "Canada's role in secret intelligence alliance Five Eyes". CTV News. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  14. Ley, Jenny (1 February 2003). "Australia and America: a 50-year affair". The Age. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  15. Gill, Peter (1994). Policing Politics: Security Intelligence and the Liberal Democratic State (1. publ. ed.). London u.a.: Cass. p. 198. ISBN 0-7146-3490-5. 
  16. Leslie, Tim. "Explained: Australia's involvement with the NSA, the US spy agency at heart of global scandal". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 January 2014. "Its existence was allegedly so secret that prime ministers were unaware of the agreement until 1973 – the same year the Commonwealth raided ASIO" 
  17. Pugh, Michael C. (1989). The ANZUS Crisis, Nuclear Visiting and Deterrence (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-521-34355-0. 
  18. Adam White (29 June 2010). "How a Secret Spy Pact Helped Win the Cold War". Time.,8599,2000262,00.html. 
  19. "Newly released GCHQ files: UKUSA Agreement". The National Archives. June 2010. "The files contain details of the recently avowed UKUSA Agreement – the top secret, post-war arrangement for sharing intelligence between the United States and the UK. Signed by representatives of the London Signals Intelligence Board and its American counterpart in March 1946, the UKUSA Agreement is without parallel in the Western intelligence world and formed the basis for co-operation between the two countries throughout the Cold War." 
  20. "2013 Defence White Paper: Renaming the Defence Signals Directorate and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation". Minister for Defence. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  21. "2017 Independent Intelligence Review" (pdf). Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. June 2017. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-925362-54-1. Retrieved 28 October 2017. 
  22. Coyne, Allie (24 October 2013). "Defence appoints new infosec chief". iTnews. nextmedia Pty Ltd. Retrieved 28 October 2017. 

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