After discovering that a camera vendor has ties to the Chinese government, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that it has cancelled a security camera test inside its subway cars.
As Jalopnik reports, the deal was struck between the MTA and Suzhou Huaqi Intelligent Technology, and involved the installation of four of its cameras on a G train at zero cost to the agency in January of 2019, with the MTA planning to run the cameras for a year.
Shortly after the trial was agreed upon, the Chinese company was acquired by Beijing Infrastructure Investment, a firm that reportedly develops facial recognition systems and has ties to the Chinese state. In 2016, S&P noted that “the [Chinese] government has very tight control over the company’s strategy, operations and management appointments.”
A number of Chinese companies have come under scrutiny by American agencies following reports that a collection of agencies and private corporations have been using technology to monitor and oppress the Uighur Muslim minority living in China’s far Northwest region. The US government has already blacklisted a number of public and private entities that are linked to the profiling of Uighurs.
In a statement made to the Daily News, a spokesperson for the MTA noted that the authority’s executives were never aware of the pilot program and partnership with Suzhou Huaqi, as the use of the cameras was never subject to a board vote.
“This short-term test and evaluation was designed to determine whether the equipment would meet New York City Transit requirements to qualify as a potential approved system for future subway car procurements,” said Lovett. “Once leadership became aware of the test program, and questions were raised about control of this particular company, we ended the evaluation.”
April 28, 2021 – by Tony Bitzionis