Due to concerns about national security, Australia will remove surveillance equipment made in China from defence facilities.
It follows the discovery of 900 pieces of monitoring hardware made by the companies Hikvision and Dahua on government properties during an audit.
Similar actions were taken by the UK and the US last year because of concerns that the Chinese government would access the device data.
These worries are unwarranted, according to Hikvision. A request for comment from Dahua has not been met.
In practically every department, including the departments of foreign affairs and attorney general, cameras and surveillance equipment were found to be installed on more than 200 structures.
The department of defence also discovered at least one unit, although it’s unclear how many are present overall.
Richard Marles, the deputy prime minister and minister of defence, said on Thursday that the government will locate and remove any cameras from defence facilities so they are “totally secure.”
He said that since the devices predated his tenure in office, “I don’t think we should overstate [the importance]… but it’s a big matter that’s been brought to our attention, and we’re going to rectify it.
The government will examine whether the cameras on other government buildings also need to be taken down, according to Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.
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James Paterson, the audit’s requestor and the shadow minister for cyber security, claims they do.
According to him, Australia has “no way” of knowing whether the gadgets provide data to Chinese intelligence services.
Any organisation or individual in China may be required to “help, aid, and cooperate with the state intelligence work” under the terms of the country’s national security law.
Additionally, Senator Paterson suggested that for “moral” reasons, Australia shouldn’t be backing Hikvision and Dahua. He said both businesses were actively involved in the alleged violations of Uyghurs’ human rights and widespread surveillance of them in Xinjiang.
It is “categorically incorrect,” according to Hikvision, to portray them as a danger to national security.
A spokeswoman stated, “No respected technical institution or evaluation has reached this judgement.
According to the company, it cannot access the video data of end customers and so cannot share it with outside parties, she claimed.
However, due to security concerns, the UK also prohibited the installation of any new security cameras made by Dahua and Hikvision on “sensitive installations” in November. Additionally, it stated that it would examine if existing devices needed to be removed.
Following a few days, the US prohibited selling and importing brand-new communications equipment from five Chinese businesses, including Dahua and Hikvision.
Anthony Albanese, the prime minister, declared that he was unconcerned about how the Chinese government could respond to the action. “We behave in a way that serves Australia’s best interests. We operate transparently, and we’ll keep operating that way, “He informed the press.
After Canberra barred Huawei from using its 5G network in 2018, relations between the two countries deteriorated. China retaliated by imposing trade restrictions and levies on Australian goods like coal, lobsters, and wine.
However, relations have improved after the centre-left government took office in May 2022.
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