The Australian Defence Department has banned WeChat, a multi-purpose social media application software developed by Chinese communications giant Tencent.

According to the Financial Review, the move follows concerns around Chinese espionage activities in Australia.

One reader commented, “The danger posed by Chinese espionage cannot be overstated. China employs more people in intelligence than the rest of the world combined. Many nations use spies to protect their security, but China focuses on stealing western technology.”

WeChat is not the only sign of what could be rising anti-China sentiment.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has been banned from the NBN rollout. It appears the Government may extend this to the Telco’s 5G rollout. Its phones are also being removed from sensitive government areas.

Similarly, ZTE has been banned from telecoms infrastructure rollouts and some government phone use.

The new Department for Home Affairs said the telecommunications sector security reforms (TSSR), which come into effect in September, will allow the government “to provide risk advice to mobile network operators or the relevant minister to issue a direction”.

Many other countries including the US have issued similar warnings. Ministry of Defence in India has issued a new order to the Indian armed forces instructing officers and all security personnel to remove, uninstall over 42 ‘spyware’ Chinese apps, including WeChat, Weibo, Xiaomi’s Mi Store, Mi Community, etc

GadgetGuy’s take – China is our number one IT supplier

We don’t make political statements – we report news -and we are not qualified to comment on telecommunications issues anyway.

Our opinion is that using smartphones from Huawei and ZTE pose no more danger than any other Chinese based manufacturer.

We have used and enjoyed amazing products like Huawei’s Mate 9/10 and ZTE Axon 7. Telstra’s Max tough phone is made by ZTE – are the Chinese spying on our tradies?

If you have secrets, then use a fully encrypted phone like the Blackberry KeyOne (made in China by TCL) and always use a VPN.

On a grander scale, it casts doubt on every social networking-based chat system – Facebook and its Messenger and WhatsApp for example. Who is to say Mark Zuckerberg et al. are not sinister, evil people wanting to dominate the world. After all, they know more about you that even your mother.

It reminds me of the ‘merde’ thrown at Bill Gates and Microsoft all those years ago accusing him of the same thing. Then “Do no evil” Google was the target and Apple’s ‘pervasive’ walled-garden to keep track of everything you do.

The reason we now see more of everything – let’s not go down the ‘Barnabye’ road – is the massive scrutiny we are under. Constant surveillance, social media, smartphone cameras, constant data mining to build better profiles on us to sell us more, real-time speech to text conversion and keyword recognition – where will it stop?

Unfortunately, Gen X and later now accept that data mining is the price of using everyone’s services. Some older, wiser and more justifiably paranoid people walk softly and leave a very small digital footprint.

Illustration from https://etschannel.deviantart.com/art/Spy-vs-Spy-wallpaper-421849776