Chinese camera technology used by the police has drawn criticism from a watchdog group

a photograph of a surveillance camera

According to a watchdog chief, the use of Chinese-made cameras by the police should be at least as alarming as the alleged use of spy balloons.

According to UK Camera Commissioner Prof. Fraser Sampson, despite acknowledging "security and ethical concerns" about suppliers, the forces were still using equipment.

After a survey revealed that the police were using foreign surveillance technology, he made the remarks.

It happens at a time when the UK's use of Chinese technology is under increased scrutiny.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about how worried we should be about Chinese spy balloons flying 60,000 feet in the air, according to Prof. Sampson.

"I don't understand why we aren't at least as concerned about the Chinese cameras in the street and elsewhere that are 6 feet above our heads. ".

Because of security concerns, Chinese-made surveillance cameras were no longer to be installed on "sensitive sites," according to instructions given to UK government departments last year.

The decision was made in response to concerns that businesses might be forced by Chinese law to work with Beijing's security services.

The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns, told the BBC that the government ought to take things a step further and get rid of all surveillance gear produced by companies with Chinese government support.

All 43 of England and Wales' police forces, as well as the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the British Transport Police (BTP), the National Crime Agency, and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), were questioned about their use of surveillance technology in the survey, which was distributed last June.

36 forces, the BTP, CNC, and the MoD all responded.

According to the responses, the survey discovered widespread usage of equipment that has raised ethical or security issues.

As a result,

  • External camera systems were used by at least 18 respondents, 15 of which were Chinese.
  • Internal camera systems were used by at least 24 respondents, 21 of which were Chinese suppliers.
  • Automatic number plate recognition systems were used by at least 11 respondents, 10 of which were made in China.
  • Additionally, 23 respondents indicated that they fly drones with cameras.

The BBC was informed by the National Police Chiefs' Council that safeguards are in place to permit the efficient use of new technologies.

"UK policing will conduct necessary reviews to ensure that national security standards are met," it continued. "Following government guidance where governmental departments have been instructed to cease the deployment of such equipment around sensitive sites. ".

MPs have expressed concerns about reported ties to alleged human rights abuses against Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority in China, as well as the human rights records of two of the camera manufacturers cited by police in the survey.

The Foreign Affairs Committee published a report in July 2021 that stated: "Equipment made by firms like Hikvision and Dahua should not be allowed to operate within the UK. ".

A call for a firm-wide ban was backed by 67 MPs and Lords a year later.

Previously, Dahua stated that it complies with "all applicable local, national, and international laws, regulations, and conventions" and that it "has not and will never develop solutions targeting any specific ethnic group.".

It is categorically false to portray Hikvision as a threat to national security, according to Hikvision, which stated to BBC News. No reputable technical organization or analysis has reached this conclusion. " .

According to the statement, Hikvision cannot transmit user data to third parties because, as a manufacturer, it does not store user video data.

The company claimed that it took seriously all reports involving human rights.

Hikvision is dedicated to upholding the highest standards and respecting human rights as a market leader. ".

Additionally, it stated that it did not deal directly with end users and sold its products through distributors.

The business declared that it supported any review of UK police's use of cameras.

Prof. Sampson referred to the lack of responses from the City of London Police, Gloucestershire Police, Greater Manchester Police, Gwent Police, Merseyside Police, National Crime Agency (NCA), South Yorkshire Police, and Thames Valley Police as "disappointing.".

The security of government institutions and systems, according to the Home Office, is crucial.

The National Cyber Security Centre has created new guidance to assist law enforcement and other organizations in evaluating and boosting their supply chain cyber-security, according to the statement.

"We are dedicated to advancing the moral development and application of technology, both domestically and internationally. We are keeping a close eye on the situation as we are aware of several Chinese technology companies connected to violations occurring in Xinjiang.

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