UK to stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras

UK to stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras

LONDON: The British government said on Thursday that it would stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras at sensitive buildings, citing security risks.

The decision comes after a review of current and future security risks associated with installation of visual surveillance systems on the government estate cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden made a statement to parliament.

The review concluded that additional controls are needed in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems.

The British directive applies to cameras made by companies subject to Chinese security laws and includes guidance for departments to disconnect such devices from core computer networks and remove them altogether.

It comes months after dozens of lawmakers called for a ban on the sale and use of security cameras made by Hikvision and Dahua, two partly state-owned Chinese firms, over privacy fears and concerns about the companies' products being linked to human rights abuses in China.

Hikvision denied the claims in a statement to Reuters, saying that the company will seek to engage with British authorities to understand the decision.

Hikvision can't transfer data from end users to third parties, we do not manage end user databases, nor do we sell cloud storage in the UK, a company spokeswoman said.

The British office of Dahua did not respond immediately to emails from Reuters seeking comment.

The US has slapped restrictions on trade and usage for cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua and other Chinese firms.

Privacy advocacy group Big Brother Watch said in July that a majority of British public bodies use surveillance cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua.

The group said that a number of government departments, including the interior and business ministries, had Hikvision cameras visible in use on the front of their buildings.

According to Dowden's statement, departments have been ordered to stop deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies that are subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China. Security considerations are always paramount around these sites, so we are taking action now to prevent security risks from happening.