Fraser Sampson, the United Kingdom’s Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, is encouraging government agencies in the UK to blacklist Hikvision when procuring new technologies. Hikvision is a camera manufacturer and facial recognition developer that is partially owned by the Chinese government, and its equipment has reportedly been used to profile Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.
According to Sampson, the company has refused to respond to repeated requests for more information in the past eight months. Since Hikvision is unwilling to answer for potential human rights abuses, Sampson believes that the company should be ruled out for consideration for government contracts in the UK.
“There are serious unanswered questions about Hikvision’s involvement in appalling human rights abuses in China,” said Sampson. “If companies won’t provide the information needed to do proper due diligence in relation to ethics and security, then they clearly should not be allowed to bid for contracts within government, or anywhere else in the public sector.”
On that front, Sampson offered praise for Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has reportedly banned Hikvision at the Department of Health. Sampson has now sent a written appeal to the Ministers of the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ask them to take similar action in their own Departments. Should they take up Sampson’s request, it would effectively block Hikvision from contracts at the central and local levels of government in the UK.
Sampson also suggested that Hikvision cameras could come with additional security issues. Most notably, he worried that the company might ship surveillance cameras with face and voice recognition systems that could be activated remotely, which would in turn allow the Chinese government to spy on the British public.
The Southern Co-op grocery chain has already come under fire for installing Hikvision cameras at British supermarkets. Meanwhile, the New York Police Department started using Hikvision surveillance tech all the way back in 2014, and then spent several years trying to hide its surveillance operations from the general public.
April 26, 2022 – by Eric Weiss