China-made surveillance cameras replaced in Federal MPs offices

MPs’ electorate offices have been removing Chinese-made surveillance cameras over fears of spyware.

The Department of Finance officials confirmed that Hikvision and Dahua security gear had been installed in the offices of 88 parliamentarians, with 65 of them having CCTV systems, while all 88 had both security cameras and intercom systems installed.

The department had written to the affected MPs last July to alert them of the plan to upgrade security, but it is unclear whether they were made aware of the presence of the Chinese-linked security gear in their offices.

Officials from the Department of Finance also confirmed it wrote to affected MPs last July to alert them it was planning to upgrade security.

But they could not say if those MPs were made aware that they had the Chinese-linked security gear installed.

So far, 20 CCTV systems have been removed, with all devices to be replaced by April. China’s national security law can be used to compel any organisation or citizen to support the state intelligence work, raising concerns that data collected by the devices could be handed over to Chinese intelligence.

Last week, it was revealed that 1000 cameras and other recording devices had been installed across 250 different Australian government building sites.

There is no specific issue driving the urgent replacement at this time because they are not (connected to the internet), the official said. “We appreciate the concerns, yes, and we are working with security authorities on that,”  a government spokesperson added.

Mary Wiley-Smith, the deputy secretary, said that the department had never been advised to take the systems down. Instead, the Hikvision and Dahua apparatus were no longer included on a list of authorised items.

A recent audit revealed that practically all departments, including foreign affairs and attorney general, had the equipment.

James Paterson, a spokesman for the opposition’s cyber security team, expressed worries about the possibility that Chinese intelligence may obtain the devices’ data.