The Australian Government has set a new target date of July 2022 for federal agencies to leave Global Switch’s Sydney data center.

While several departments have left the facility, many, including Defence, failed to meet the previous migration target of September 2020 and still have data in the Chinese-owned company’s data center.

First reported by ITNews, Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo told a senate estimates hearing this week that most remaining agencies, including the Department of Home Affairs, had agreed to depart the facility in Sydney by that time. He added that agencies undergoing migrations have put in ‘safeguards’ to protect the data that is yet to be moved.

“Agreements have been reached with each participating agency to enable exit by the end of financial [year] 2021-22,” Pezzullo said on Monday, adding that “mitigations have been put in place by each agency” in the interim.

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Aus Gov continues to migrate away from Global Switch

– Global Switch

There has been an exodus of Australian Government customers from Global Switch locations ever since Chinese steel giant Shagang made its first investment in Global Switch in 2017, becoming a potential security risk. Shagang is now the majority shareholder of Global Switch.

The previous target to leave the facility was September 2020, with affected departments included Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence.

The Australian Department of Defence has reportedly already moved its most sensitive data out of the Switch-owned facility in Ultimo, Sydney, and relocated to a dedicated data center, but recently signed an AU$53.5 million (US$41.2 million) 5-year extension to provide more time to move out the rest of the departments’ data.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission announced plans to move out of Global Switch’s Sydney-based data center earlier in the year, while in April 2020 the Australian Taxation Office signed a deal to move away from Global Switch's Sydney facility and into Canberra Data Centres-owned facilities.

Pezzullo said the Australian Digital Health Agency and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) were amongst those set to leave before the new target date, and that Home Affairs is currently shifting its data away from Global Switch. He added that data held in the facility is the department’s unclassified and protected-level data, and not secret or top secret data.

“We’re funded to undertake a remediation program of removal,” he said. “Pending removal, we’ve put some additional safeguards and capabilities that I wouldn’t want to describe publicly because they could potentially be defeated by adversaries.”

Pezzullo said Home Affairs is in the process of finalizing a contract with an unnamed “Australian owned, Australian controlled and Australian located” data center provider.

“This selection has been based on a robust risk-based assessment to ensure both continuity of the data and data sovereignty and supply chain integrity,” he said.