by Daniel Croft
The Australian government owns over 3,000 Chinese-made drones that utilise technology linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), flagging them as a security risk, according to a government-wide audit.
The audit, which was launched by shadow cyber security minister James Paterson, found that the government owned a total of 3,114 devices created by Chinese manufacturer DJI, mostly including cameras and drones, but also batteries and gimbals.
Paterson said he “launched [the] government-wide audit in March through Senate questions on notice which has revealed yet another alarming exposure to high-risk authoritarian technology, following earlier audits of TikTok application use and Hikvision and Dahua cameras.”
DJI products of this kind have been blacklisted in the US due to their use of technology linked to the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the CCP.
“DJI is also deemed to be complicit in human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang,” said Paterson in a media statement issued on Wednesday (5 July).
It was found that 38 government departments and agencies used DJI devices, with Climate Change and Energy having 82 devices, Foreign Affairs and Trade owning 15 devices, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet with six devices.
Following the discovery, Paterson has made a number of government recommendations, including a “government-wide grounding of all DJI drone fleets”, following in the footsteps of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Defence Force, and Australian Border Force.
Prior to this, Paterson said in May that the disabling of at-risk Chinese devices should extend to critical infrastructure operators.