The UK government announced today that government departments are to “cease deployment” of security cameras from Hikvision.
In response to a written question, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden MP, replied this afternoon that the government had carried out a review of “current and future possible security risks”. It had concluded that equipment from companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China must face “additional controls”.
In practice, this means that government departments have been “instructed to cease deployment” of security cameras from companies including Hikvision and that departments “should consider whether they should remove and replace such equipment where it is deployed on sensitive sites”.
The announcement follows commitments from the UK government’s Department of Health and Social Care, and the Department for Work and Pensions that they will ban Hikvision surveillance technologies from their networks.
Hikvision is a Chinese state-owned company and one of the largest manufacturers of surveillance equipment in the world. It has received growing scrutiny in the UK as MPs and campaigns groups, including Free Tibet, have highlighted the risks of the technology to the public and the company’s use against Tibetans and Uyghurs living under Chinese Communist Party rule.
The new restrictions outlined by Oliver Dowden MP today do nothing to halt the use of Hikvision by UK councils. Research by Free Tibet using Freedom of Information requests found that Hikvision technology was being used in at least 66% of UK councils.
Nevertheless, Edinburgh City Council has led the way, announcing in October that it will be phasing out Hikvision cameras, making the city free of Hikvision technology by February 2023.
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