August 16, 2021
Professor Fraser Sampson
Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper Partner, Arent Fox LLP
Dear Ambassador Prosper
Hikvision Notes and Queries – August 2021
Following Justin’s August 10, 2021 letter which picks up a number of points from his original letter to the Valued Partners I interviewed, we need to clarify / note the following please:
Justin’s latest letter states that “we do not supervise or control our devices once they are passed on to installers … Operational matters are beyond our purview.” This gives the impression that Hikvision is simply making and supplying cameras, however, there is documentary evidence to suggest otherwise. For example, the public market of Zhongzhao International Tendering Co Ltd. (ref. TC179H2TH) shared with our office refers to the award of a contract for the PiShan County Social Control and Prevention System. This contract is to work in close partnership with the government to “design, build, finance, operate and transfer the system.” It is a âcooperation systemâ with a contractual life of 21 years, with a construction period of 1 year. âCooperationâ involves active and voluntary collaboration with others to achieve a result and the winning bidder and delivery partner for this high value (335.99 million youan) âprevention and social control programâ is Hangzhou Hikvision System Technology Co. Ltd.
The tender award announcement then describes the ârisk allocation structureâ under which the âbusiness risksâ – such as design,â¦ operation and maintenance – are borne by the company. successful bidder, while the âlegal and political risksâ are for the government; the risks of force majeure are shared. Again, this is very clearly a joint venture agreement where operational matters fall expressly within the contractual competence of the company, which is supposed to last for two decades. It would help me considerably if Justin could confirm Hikvision’s role and contribution in this project as well as the following prevention and control projects mentioned in Hikvision’s 2020 Annual Report to Shareholders: [footnote 1]
Urumqi high-tech zone (new urban area) Safe city and surveillance system for comprehensive social management
MoYu Safety Protection and Prevention Control System
PiShan Safety Protection and Prevention Control System
LuoP Security Protection and Prevention Control System
YuTian Safe City PPP Project Agreement
Justin goes on to reiterate that âHikvision respects human rights and takes seriously our responsibility to protect people. Hikvision fully adheres to and has implemented the fundamental and operational principles set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
This is useful because the Guiding Principles are of paramount importance to the issues raised during our correspondence. For example, they require states to take additional measures to protect themselves against human rights violations committed by state-owned or controlled business enterprises (Principle 4) and that businesses should “seek to prevent or mitigate negative impacts on human rights that are directly linked to their operations, products or services through their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to these impacts â(principle 13, emphasis added ). The principles also require companies to consider additional standards in certain circumstances, such as respect for the human rights of âindividuals belonging to specific groups or populations that require special attentionâ, such as indigenous peoples; women; national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and children (Principle 12).
Perhaps more importantly here, the principles require that, in all cases, companies provide sufficient information to assess the adequacy of a company’s response to the particular human rights impact involved ( principle 21, emphasis added), which could hardly be more relevant. My requests for such information are very much consistent with this “core principle” and I am encouraged to see Hikvision’s commitment to providing them.
Finally, Justin refers to a “collaboration” with my predecessor which, he says, was “in large part to build confidence in the surveillance industry.” Although I do not know the extent of such collaboration, I believe that fostering trust is essential to the effective functioning of surveillance camera systems as envisioned by my statutory functions and it is for this purpose that I ‘trying to get clarity, specificity and transparency in what Justin recognizes are serious business.
Fraser Sampson, Commissioner of Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras