Hikvision: Chinese company's CCTV cameras will be replaced by Kent councils

Hikvision cameras in a Beijing shopping mall in May 2019

A few Kent county councils have announced they will stop using CCTV cameras produced by a firm with ties to the Chinese government.

Hikvision has been accused of using technology to support China's repression of Uyghurs.

The removal of the current cameras has been demanded by one councilor in Kent.

According to the company, it does not pose a threat to national security and is "committed to upholding the highest standards and respect for human rights.".

After finding that Hikvision's cameras were being used in Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, MPs recommended that "equipment manufactured by companies such as Hikvision should not be permitted to operate within the UK" in July 2021.

Hikvision cameras are only used in council buildings, but Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, and Tunbridge Wells councils all stated they would switch them out for newer models if necessary.

The councils of Medway and Gravesham stated that they were awaiting clarification from the government and the Commissioner for Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras before making a decision.

Despite using Hikvision cameras, according to Dover Council, the company is not a party to the contract.

The Dartford Borough Council has not yet responded.

Uyghur family pictured outside their home
China has been charged with potential genocide against the Uyghurs, a charge it vigorously refutes.

The fear is that biometric data will be sent back to the Chinese Communist Party via Hikvision's cameras, according to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council leader Matt Boughton. Chinese businesses must obediently comply with requests from government agencies. ".

Conservative councilman for Sevenoaks District George Pender claims he favors more forceful measures.

I would like us to go a step further, which would essentially mean removing them from every system used by Sevenoaks District Council. "We're not going to put any more [cameras] in," he said.

Recently, a lot of government organizations in Wales made a similar choice.

Hikvision's spokesman stated: "Technical analysis of Hikvision products has never indicated that they pose a risk to the national security interests of the United Kingdom. It is regrettable that a crucial component of the nation's security architecture has been politicized by a few people, eroding public confidence in the crucial work that our products support.

Because Hikvision does not offer cloud storage in the UK and does not store end users' video data, it is unable to transmit that data to outside parties. Hikvision cameras are required to adhere to stringent security standards and are in compliance with all applicable UK laws and regulations.

"Hikvision takes all reports relating to violations of human rights very seriously and is aware of its obligation to safeguard individuals. Hikvision, a market leader, is dedicated to upholding the highest standards and observing human rights. ".

Government spokesman: "The government announced last year that departments should stop using visual surveillance systems made by companies subject to China's National Intelligence Law on specific government sites.

. "

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