Australia’s defense ministry will remove Chinese-made cameras from its offices over spying concerns, the country’s Minister for Defence Richard Marles has said.
The concerns were raised by Senator James Paterson of the opposition Liberal Party, who said Wednesday that he had conducted an “audit” of Chinese-made security devices in use on Australian government premises.
The audit found 913 devices, including cameras, access control systems and intercoms, made by Chinese-state owned enterprises Hikvision and Dahua, Paterson noted.
“These companies have a very close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, and they are subject to China’s National Intelligence laws, which require all Chinese companies and individuals to secretly cooperate with Chinese intelligence agencies if requested,” Paterson said in a radio interview Wednesday.
“There have been vulnerabilities identified with these cameras in the past, where third parties could take full control over them and get the audio and video collected by them.”
Defense minister Marles responded: “I don’t think we should overstate [the seriousness], but it’s a significant thing that’s been brought to our attention and we’re going to fix it.”
In a separate radio interview, Marles said his department was “doing an assessment of all the technology for surveillance within the defense estate. And where those particular cameras are found they’re going to be removed.”
Asked about the Australian government’s concerns over Chinese-made cameras, a spokesperson for Beijing’s foreign affairs ministry said China opposes “generalizing national security, abuse of state power and acts that discriminate and suppress Chinese companies.”