LONDON (AP) — An independent monitor of Britain’s use of surveillance cameras has called on the government to clarify its stance on buying equipment from a Chinese technology company accused of involvement in human rights abuses. human rights.
Fraser Sampson, the biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner, said he raised concerns with senior Cabinet officials after Hikvision failed to respond to questions about the extent of its role in China’s handling Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the western province of Xinjiang.
“There are serious unanswered questions about Hikvision’s involvement in the appalling human rights abuses in China,” Sampson said in a statement Tuesday. “The company appears unwilling or unable to provide assurances about the ethics of some of its operations and safety issues associated with its equipment.”
Sampson said the company’s cameras and facial recognition technology have been implicated in “systematic human rights abuses” against Uyghurs. He said the widespread persecution of the minority group in Xinjiang “is known to rely heavily on surveillance technology, including facial recognition software designed to detect racial characteristics.”
The Telegraph newspaper reported earlier this month that the UK Department of Health had banned Hikvision, which is partly owned by the Chinese government, from competing for new business after a sourcing report revealed “concerns ethics” concerning the company.
Sampson said all branches of the UK government should rule out contracts with Hikvision until the company provides the necessary ethics and safety information.
It was not immediately clear how many of the company’s cameras had been purchased by local authorities or were in use in UK government buildings, although media estimated there were more than 1.2 million Hikvision cameras in the country.
In 2019, the company was blocked from selling to US federal government agencies due to security concerns.
Hikvision, headquartered in Hangzhou, China, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
The company’s website says its products are used in more than 150 countries and regions and it employs more than 42,000 people worldwide.