Australia will remove security cameras from buildings of its defense department that were made by companies linked to the Chinese Communist Party.
According to The Australian newspaper, at least 913 cameras, intercoms and entry systems, as well as video recorders, made by Hikvision or Dahua, are located in government offices. This includes the defense and foreign affairs departments.
China is partly owned by the two companies. There are concerns that the equipment could be used to spy on people.
Australia Richard Marles, the defence minister of , stated that surveillance technology was being evaluated within his department.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), he stated that if those cameras were found, they would be removed.
“There’s a problem here, and we’re going about fixing it.”
An audit revealed that Hikvision cameras and Dahua equipment were found in nearly every government department, except the agriculture department.
James Paterson, a cybersecurity spokesperson for Australia’s opposition party called on the government urgently to implement a plan “to rip out every one of these devices”.
He said that “we would not have any way to know if the sensitive data, images and audio being collected by these devices is secretly being sent back China against the interest of Australian citizens.”
Similar moves were made by the UK and USA to end using Chinese-made equipment.
The UK government departments were instructed to cease using it on “sensitive sites” in November.
Last year, it was also announced that the US government would ban equipment made by several Chinese brands in order to protect its communications network.
Chinese spy balloons spotted on five continents
Photos of the US Navy pulling a’spy ball’ from the ocean
Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, criticized “wrongful practices that overstretch national security and abuse state power in suppressing and discriminating against Chinese enterprises”.
In briefings with reporters, she said: “We hope Australia will offer a fair environment for the normal operations of Chinese enterprises. We also hope that Australia will do more things to foster mutual trust and cooperation.”