Thursday, 30 April 2020 11:29

DTA says AWS will not store COVIDSafe data at Chinese-owned data centre Featured

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DTA says AWS will not store COVIDSafe data at Chinese-owned data centre Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

The Digital Transformation Agency claims that data from the government's COVIDSafe app will not be stored in data centres owned by Chinese interests.

Responding a query from iTWire, the DTA said: "No COVIDSafe information will be stored in Global Switch facilities", with the reference being to a company that is fully owned by a Chinese group and one of the centres where Amazon Web Services", the company that was awarded the contract, stores data.

As reported on Wednesday, Labor MP Ed Husic had said AWS was storing data in a Global Switch data centre, adding that the Australian Signals Directorate was also concerned about this aspect of AWS' functioning in Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs, which handled the initial stages of the tender, that was limited to AWS, has been pushing other government departments to move their data from the same centre before September.

The DTA spokesperson said COVIDSafe data would be held in the National Data Store which "is a secured and encrypted data store hosted by AWS in Australia".

"This aligns with the guidance in the Australian Government Information Security Manual."

Prior to this, Home Affairs responded to a query from iTWire, saying, "The development and hosting arrangement for the ‘COVIDSafe’ application is led by the Digital Transformation Agency and the Department of Health. The hosting arrangements for the application is a matter for the DTA."

No reason has been given why no Australian company was asked to tender for the hosting when there are three companies who meet the same standards as AWS does: Vault, Macquarie Government and Sliced Tech.

The award comes at a time when Australia has been at loggerheads with China over a number of things, one being the origin of the coronavirus that has caused a pandemic.

According to a Wikileaks map published in 2018, AWS has eight data centres where it hosts data in Australia, two of which it owns.

The others are named as follows: SYD1: Equinix SYD3 in Alexandria. SYD4: Global Switch Ultimo. SYD5: Fujitsu Western Sydney Datacentre. SYD6: Iseek-KDC Gore Hill, Artarmon. SYD7: Fujitsu Sydney Datacentre, Homebush. SYD61: NextDC S1, Macquarie Park.

The company is also known to have edge network facilities in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Last year, AWS signed a whole-of-government deal with Australia, enabling federal, state and territory agencies, as well as public universities and publicly-owned companies, to use AWS Cloud services. Agencies can use all AWS services in any of the company's 66 availability zones in 21 global regions under the deal.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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