UK restricts installation of China-linked surveillance cameras in government buildings over security concerns

The British government has asked its departments to stop installing China-linked surveillance cameras in sensitive buildings, due to security risks.

The decision comes after a review of “potential current and future security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on government property”, Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said.

“The review concluded that, given the threat to the UK and the increasing capacity and connectivity of these systems, additional checks are required,” Mr Dowden said.

The directive applies to cameras made by companies subject to Chinese security laws and includes advice for departments to disconnect such devices from central computer networks and consider phasing them out altogether.

It comes months after dozens of politicians called for a ban on the sale and use of security cameras made by Hikvision and Dahua, two Chinese partly state-owned companies, over fears of life. privacy and corporate product concerns linked to human rights abuses in China.

Hikvision denied the allegations in a statement and said the company would seek to engage with UK authorities to understand the decision.

“Hikvision cannot pass end user data to third parties, we do not manage end user databases nor do we sell cloud storage in the UK,” a spokesperson for Hikvision said. the society.

Dahua’s UK office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The United States has imposed trade and usage restrictions on cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua and other Chinese companies.

The majority of UK public bodies use surveillance cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua, privacy group Big Brother Watch said in July.

A number of government departments, including the ministries of interior and business, used Hikvision cameras visibly at the front of their buildings, the group said.

Mr Dowden said the departments had been instructed to stop deploying equipment to sensitive sites, where it was “produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China”.

“As security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking steps now to prevent any security risks from materializing,” he said.

Reuters

Marjorie N. McClure