29 Mar 2012

Police inquiry sought over News Corp hacking claims

9:45 am on 29 March 2012

Australia's communications minister has called for a police investigation into allegations Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation engaged in hacking and piracy to damage commercial television competitors.

News Corporation has denied all the allegations, which are similar to ones made in Britain, the BBC reports.

The reports centre on events 10 years ago at the company NDS which at the time was a subsidiary of News Corp and makes smart cards for its pay TV companies.

On Monday, the BBC's Panorama programme alleged that NDS executives hired hackers to crack the codes of On Digital, a TV rival to BSkyB and leaked them to a website so pirate cards could be made, allowing people to watch the service for free.

The Australian Financial Review now claims NDS staff did the same in Australia, damaging News Corp's TV rivals there.

The allegations in the paper said that News Corporation used a special unit called Operational Security to sabotage its competitors.

It said that hackers were encouraged to make illegal copies of smart cards used by rival pay-tv operators including Austar and Optus.

The result, the newspaper said, had the effect of taking away millions of dollars worth of revenue and devaluing their business.

The Australian Financial Review belongs to Fairfax - a rival of News Corp. It said that the evidence was unearthed during a four-year investigation.