National Security

Call for national technology security office

June 1, 2023

Noah Yim
The Australian
Thursday 1 June 2023

The opposition will propose the creation of a new office to ­assess security risks in government-used technology.

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson is scheduled to deliver a speech on Thursday to the Australian Cyber Security Summit in Canberra, where he will propose a ­national technology security ­office.

“The government should ­establish a new office within the Department of Home Affairs to assess the security risks presented by software and hardware used by the commonwealth government,” reads the speech, seen by The Australian.

“A national technology security office should bring together the policy nous of departments like Home Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department with the technical expertise and intelligence access of agencies like the Australian Signals Directorate and the Office of National Intelligence,” he will say.

Senator Paterson will specifically call out Chinese technology companies, saying they are “effectively arms of the Chinese state, and subject to the extrajudicial ­direction of the Chinese Communist Party through many levers”.

“Unfortunately, it is also a dominant source of much of the software and hardware Australians rely on – including the federal government,” he will say.

The move comes after months of revelations – largely driven by Senator Paterson’s efforts – about government use of Chinese technology and concerns about ­vulnerabilities.

Following those concerns, the government banned social media app TikTok on government devices, suspended the use of Chinese-manufactured DJI drones within the Defence Force, and removed security devices supplied by ­Chinese firms Dahua and Hikvision from government facilities.

“Ripping out cameras or uninstalling apps after the fact is time- consuming, expensive and leaves us wondering how much damage has already been done,” he will say.

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