Hikvision: Kent councils will swap out Chinese-made CCTV equipment

In May 2019, Hikvision cameras were found in a Beijing shopping center

Councils in Kent have declared they will stop using CCTV cameras produced by a firm with connections to the Chinese government.

Hikvision has been accused of using technology that contributes to the treatment of Uyghurs in China.

One councilman from Kent has demanded the removal of the present cameras.

The business asserts that it poses no threat to national security and is "committed to upholding the highest standards and respect for human rights.".

After MPs discovered that Hikvision's cameras were being used in Uyghur internment camps in Xinjiang, the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Select Committee declared in July 2021 that "equipment manufactured by companies such as Hikvision should not be permitted to operate within the UK.".

The councils of Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, and Tunbridge Wells, which only use Hikvision cameras in council buildings, all declared that when it comes time for an upgrade, they will swap them out for new hardware from different manufacturers.

Before making a choice, Medway and Gravesham councils stated that they were awaiting clarification from the government and the Commissioner for Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras.

Despite using Hikvision cameras, according to Dover Council, the organization does not have a contract with Hikvision.

Dartford Borough Council is still undecided.

Uyghur family pictured outside their home
China is denying allegations that it may have committed genocide against the Uyghur people.

The fear is that biometric data will be transmitted back to the Chinese Communist Party via Hikvision's cameras, according to Matt Boughton, the leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. Chinese businesses are legally required to assist government agencies when asked. ".

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

We won't add any additional cameras, he said, but he suggested going a step further and effectively removing them from all of Sevenoaks District Council's systems.

Recently, similar decisions were made by many public institutions in Wales.

"Technical analysis of Hikvision products has never indicated they are a threat to the national security interests of the United Kingdom," a spokesman for the company stated. It is regrettable that some people were willing to polarize a key component of the nation's security framework, eroding public confidence in the crucial work that our products support.

"Hikvision does not store the video data from end users, does not provide cloud storage in the UK, and is unable to transmit end user data to third parties. Hikvision cameras must adhere to stringent security requirements and are compliant with all applicable UK laws and regulations.

"Hikvision recognizes its obligation to safeguard people and takes all reports pertaining to human rights very seriously. Hikvision is dedicated to upholding the highest standards and respecting human rights as a market leader. ".

According to a government spokesman, the government had previously ordered departments not to use visual surveillance systems made by firms governed by China's National Intelligence Law on certain government properties.

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