AWS to provide ‘top secret’ cloud services in Australia

4 Jul 2024

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Defence and intelligence agencies in Australia will soon be able to use Amazon cloud services to securely host sensitive information.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has struck a A$2bn deal with Australia that will see the US company provide “top secret” cloud services to the country’s government.

AWS has had a significant presence in Australia since 2012, investing more than A$9.1bn in the country’s economy since then. Amazon said it plans to invest an additional A$13.2bn in the Australian economy by 2027.

The idea behind the “top secret” AWS Cloud – known as TS Cloud – is to enhance the nation’s defence and intelligence capabilities by combining the company’s expertise in security with local talent.

According to Reuters, this includes the creation of new data centres in the country to allow defence agencies to increase their use of AI to analyse data.

“Artificial intelligence is an important game-changer for all of us in the intelligence community,” said Rachel Noble, director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate, an intelligence agency of the Australian Department of Defence.

“We are working to embrace the use of it in an ethical, well-governed and well-understood manner, where we understand very carefully when we bring AI tools into our environment how are they being used, what are they doing to the data, and [whether] we understand how carefully they need to be governed.”

Defence and intelligence agencies in Australia will be able to use TS Cloud to securely host sensitive information. AWS already provides cloud services to the UK and US governments.

The new deal is poised to enhance interoperability of data between Australia, the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand – all members of the Five Eyes intelligence coalition.

Amazon recently crossed the $2trn valuation threshold for the first time in its history as it benefits from a surge in demand for cloud and generative AI services. Net sales were up 13pc and operating income from its cloud services nearly doubled in its latest earnings report.

In March, it invested $2.75bn into Anthropic (which recently opened its first EU office in Dublin) to complete a $4bn investment commitment it made last year. It has since committed billions in investment to countries such as SingaporeFrance and Germany to meet growing cloud infrastructure and AI demand. Amazon has also committed to supports for early-stage start-ups through its generative AI accelerator.

However, the company was slammed with a billion-pound lawsuit last month in what became one of the biggest cases of collective action taken by UK retailers for alleged misuse of their data. Days later, it was ordered to pay nearly $122m after a US court found the e-commerce giant guilty of patent violations against AlmondNet, an adtech company based in New York.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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