British Surveillance Camera Commissioner asks Hikvision about human rights violations in China • The Register


The China-based surveillance equipment maker, accused of being linked to human rights abuses by Xinjiang’s ethnic Uyghur minority, has denied any wrongdoing in a heated exchange with Britain’s surveillance camera commissioner.

Eye-catchingly, Hikvision’s denials appeared in a series of letters posted by CCTV Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson on the GOV.UK website.

The enlightening exchange between Sampson and the British branch of Chinese company began after Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for Hikvision to be banned from operating in Britain after it linked the company to what the United States United have called it genocide.

China’s ruling party has been accused of attempting to enslave, torture and eradicate the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority living in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province. Human rights groups report that Chinese authorities operate internment camps, using imprisoned Uyghurs as slave labor. While Beijing denies doing wrong, labeling the Uyghur minority as terrorists and separatists, satellite images show the camps and testimonies from survivors suggest the abuses continue.

“Cameras made by the Chinese company Hikvision have been deployed throughout Xinjiang and provide the main camera technology used in internment camps,” the foreign affairs committee said in a July report. He went on to quote Dr Samantha Hoffman of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Dr Radomir Tylecote of Civitas, who they said “shared their concern that facial recognition cameras made by companies such as Hikvision operating in the UK collect facial recognition data, which can then be used by the Chinese government. “

In his role as Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Professor Sampson oversees certain business practices of surveillance technology companies operating in the UK.

Thus, when a letter circulated by Hikvision to its British associates declared that the conclusions of the parliamentary report were “unfounded” and “sent an unacceptable message” [PDF], Professor Sampson wrote this to the UK branch of the manufacturer.

“It is not clear in your letter to the monitoring partners whether you accept (…) that crimes be committed against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and I would be grateful if you could. want to clarify this, “said the commissioner, who also asked whether Hikvision would agree to its equipment being used by the Chinese state in its camps in Xinjiang.

Hikvision UK and Ireland Marketing Director Justin Hollis sent Sampson a two paragraph response [PDF] inviting him to a meeting – without answering the Uyghur question. Hollis sent a later letter [PDF] August 10 stating:

Hikvision also cited an internal report [PDF] written by a former US diplomat who concluded that Hikvision did not “knowingly or intentionally” abuse human rights while working on “five projects in Xinjiang”.

Sampson responded [PDF] August 16:

Hikvision, a partly Chinese state-owned company, is a lesser known name than Huawei and ZTE; it was included in a series of proposed U.S. sanctions against Chinese tech companies in June. He was placed on a banned list of suppliers created by the US Department of Commerce in 2019, which did not prevent local US government organizations from purchasing his kit.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company, who asked not to be named, said The register: “Hikvision takes all human rights reports very seriously and recognizes our responsibility to protect people and property. The company has engaged with governments around the world to clarify misunderstandings about the company and our business and address their concerns. As a market leader, Hikvision is committed to the highest standards and respect for human rights. As a manufacturer who does not oversee the operation of our products, we make sure our cameras are designed to protect communities and property. “

The spokesperson also highlighted a submission he made to Parliament’s Committee on Business, Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2020, which said its product manuals “include language related to protection rights to provide an alert to end users “. ®

Starting note

In his latest letter to the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Hollis of Hikvision complained: “It is very difficult for international companies to publicly answer specific questions on paper. This usually leads to more questions and a kangaroo trial by the media.

The register wholeheartedly endorses the idea of ​​a marsupial-based media review.

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