ABC removes Chinese-made surveillance cameras from offices

Concerns about potential spyware behind removal of cameras from ABC secure office locations.

ABC removes Chinese-made surveillance cameras from offices
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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has removed surveillance equipment made by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua from three sites after the cameras were discovered.

While the broadcaster did not confirm the number of cameras, it was reported that some were located in secure areas within the ABC’s Sydney headquarters, where some of the network’s most high-profile news programs are produced.

The equipment was located in “general areas, not in workspaces, and are not connected to our networks,” according to a spokesperson.

Both Hikvision and Dahua have been banned in the United States and the United Kingdom due to concerns about potential spyware, while the US Federal Communications Commission has warned the devices pose an “unacceptable risk to national security”.

The companies are subject to China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, which obliges organisations to hand over data to intelligence services if requested.

Shadow Cyber Security Minister James Paterson called for the equipment to be removed urgently, noting the ABC’s own reporting on the risks of using equipment from Chinese Communist Party-linked companies.

He said, “now that they have been identified they must be immediately removed, like in all other Commonwealth entities.”

Last month, the Department of Finance confirmed the Chinese-made cameras and intercom systems were being removed from the offices of almost 100 federal MPs, while an audit found the equipment was in almost every department, including the Attorney-General’s, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence. At least 913 cameras were found to be installed in more than 250 government buildings.

The Australian government has been increasingly vocal about the risks of using Chinese-made technology in critical infrastructure, with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year saying that Australia would “not trade our values in response to coercion from anyone”. The government has launched an audit of the equipment and is considering banning it. 

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  • By Avi Yemini

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