An investigation by Free Tibet has found that at least three UK government departments are using CCTV cameras made by Hikvision, the Chinese company which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and is implicated in the oppression of Tibetans and Uyghurs.
Using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to every government department, Free Tibet discovered that the Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Work and Pensions, and Ministry of Justice all make use of Hikvision cameras, with hundreds of the cameras installed in Jobcentre Pluses used by the public every day.
There are many security concerns about HIkvision, including recent revelations that their cameras may be transferring information to computers in China, and the discovery of a massive security flaw allowing remote access to their equipment. The investigation also uncovered that the Ministry of Defence had advised the Cabinet Office not to use Hikvision equipment, meaning that several government departments are ignoring the advice of those responsible for keeping the UK safe from outside threats. When asked, neither the Cabinet Office nor the Ministry of Defense provided further details of the advice. The details of the FOI responses, including the locations of DWP’s Hikvision cameras, are available from Free Tibet on request.
Hikvision has been found to be supplying equipment for use in surveillance in Tibet, and in Uyghur internment camps. When the money that UK taxpayers give to the government is spent on Hikvision equipment, it supports a company that helps create a surveillance state in Tibet and helps them develop technologies like facial recognition that can distinguish between Uyghur and Han Chinese people. Hikvision is 42 percent owned by Chinese state enterprises, effectively making the Chinese government the controlling stakeholder. This means that some of the money made by Hikvision is likely to reach the Chinese government, and that such purchases in turn fund human rights abuses against Tibetans.
Free Tibet is calling on the Foreign Secretary to ban Hikvision from the UK and stop funding Chinese government oppression.
Government departments are ignoring their own experts and putting the people of the UK at risk
John Jones, Free Tibet
John Jones, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager for Free Tibet, said:
“Money spent by the UK government on Hikvision cameras funds the oppression of Tibetan and Uyghur people by the Chinese government. Government departments are ignoring their own experts and putting the people of the UK at risk, while enriching a company that enables the genocidal aims of the Chinese dictatorship.
“The Prime Minister and his cabinet must stop allowing China’s economic might to push them into ignoring massive human rights abuses. Hikvision sales must be banned in the UK immediately and its cameras removed as soon as possible.”
Copies of all of the Freedom of Information responses received from government departments are available on request.
Media contact – Will Hoyles, [email protected], 07772512519