Letter from the Commissioner of Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras to Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, August 16, 2021 (accessible version)

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August 16, 2021

Professor Fraser Sampson

Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner

2 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DF

https://www.gov.uk/surveillance-camera-commissioner

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 “cooperation system” with a contractual life of 21 years, with a construction period of 1 year. “Cooperation” 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) “prevention and social control program” is Hangzhou Hikvision System Technology Co. Ltd.

The tender award announcement then describes the “risk allocation structure” under which the “business risks” – such as design,… operation and maintenance – are borne by the company. successful bidder, while the “legal and political risks” 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 “Hikvision 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 ”(principle 13, emphasis added ). The principles also require companies to consider additional standards in certain circumstances, such as respect for the human rights of “individuals belonging to specific groups or populations that require special attention”, 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.

Regards

Fraser Sampson, Commissioner of Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras


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