Call for ban on Chinese CCTV cameras 'which recognise faces and emotions'.

Bucharest, Romania - September 18, 2020: Various professional surveillance cameras (infrared, thermal) mounted on a Romanian Border Police vehicle.
Two Chinese companies have been linked to state repression in China. (Getty)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A cross party group of MPs have called for a ban on two Chinese surveillance camera brands widely used in Britain — and linked to Chinese concentration camps.

The artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras are capable of facial detection, gender recognition and behavioural analysis and offer advanced features such as identifying fights or if someone is wearing a face mask.

The two brands — Hikvision and Dahua — are widely used by government bodies in the UK, by 73% of councils across the UK, 57% of secondary schools in England, and six out of 10 NHS Trusts.

The two companies have previously been shown to offer ethnicity profiling tools on their CCTV cameras in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uyghurs are detained and subjected to abuse, torture and forced sterilisation.

Read more: Britain has more surveillance cameras than any country except China

Both companies have signed several contracts to provide surveillance equipment for cities and concentration camps in the region.

The MPs and Lords who signed the document includes former Conservative ministers David Davis MP, Lord Bethell, Steve Baker MP, and leading Labour human rights figure Baroness Chakrabarti plus Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey.

David Davis MP said,:“I have long campaigned against the worrying creep of the surveillance state. Big Brother Watch’s latest findings show the shocking extent UK companies are relying on Chinese technology as part of their CCTV networks.

Watch: Tricks to spot hidden surveillance cameras in your AirBnB

“This technology comes equipped with advanced surveillance capabilities such as facial recognition, person tracking and gender identification. These pose a significant threat to civil liberties in our country.

“But in addition to the privacy concerns, these companies, Hikvision and Dahua, are Chinese state-owned companies, raising urgent questions over whether they also pose a threat to national security.

“The US has already blacklisted the companies. We need to be in step with our international partners, and should also look to ban invasive and oppressive technology from these firms.”

Read more: UK surveillance regulator withdraws from conference over Hikvision

The letter also calls for for “an independent national review of the scale, capabilities, ethics and rights impact of modern CCTV in the UK”.

Partly Chinese state-owned CCTV manufacturers Hikvision and Dahua are now banned from trading in the US, owing to security concerns and evidence of their widespread use in so-called “re-education” camps in Xinjiang.

Jake Hurfurt, head of research and investigations at Big Brother Watch, said: “Chinese state-owned CCTV has no place watching Britain’s streets. Hikvision and Dahua are closely linked to the genocide in Xinjiang and their low-cost, high-tech cameras are normalising intrusive surveillance in the UK.

“It is horrifying that companies that provide the technological infrastructure for Beijing’s crimes against humanity provide cameras to 61% of public bodies in the UK.

“The widespread use of Hikvision and Dahua CCTV in the UK is creating a dystopian surveillance state that poses serious rights and security risks to the British public, whilst indirectly supporting China’s persecution of ethnic minorities. We urge the prime minister to follow the US example and urgently ban Hikvision and Dahua from operating in the UK.

“These revelations show the need for the government to instigate an independent review of the scale, capabilities, rights and ethics of modern CCTV in Britain.”