Cross-party group of MPs and Lords calls for ban on widely used Hikvision and Dahua surveillance tech in UK over human rights concerns
A cross-party group of MPs and Lords have called for the government to ban the use of surveillance equipment by two Chinese firms in the UK over human rights concerns.
The group of 67 parliamentarians said they condemn the “involvement in technology-enabled human rights abuses in China” by Chinese firms Hikvision and Dahua.
Those signing the statement include former Conservative ministers David Davis, Lord Bethell, Steve Baker and Damien Green, Labour Baroness Chakrabarti and Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, the SNP’s Alyn Smith, Green MP Caroline Lucas and crossbench peers.
Both companies said they abide by relevant human rights laws. Hikvision said “fringe groups” were “demonising” the company.
Recent research by campaign group Big Brother Watch suggested that many public bodies in the UK use CCTV cameras made by the two companies.
The results of Freedom of Information requests sent by the group found that some 73 percent of UK councils, 57 percent of secondary schools in England and six out of 10 NHS trusts use the devices, as well as UK universities and police forces.
Big Brother Watch said a number of governmenet departments, including the Home Office and the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have Hikvision cameras “visibly” in use on the front of their buildings, although many departments did not respond to FOI requests about their use of the technology.
The Cabinet Office has told UK companies to “consider the ethical implications of engaging with China on emerging technologies”, but has so far not followed calls for an outright ban.
The parliamentarians’ statement, coordinated by Big Brother Watch, follow a July 2021 by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that said equipment made by companies such as Hikvision and Dahua “should not be permitted to operate within the UK” as they “provide the primary camera technology used in the internment camps” of the Xinjiang region.
The Chinese government has denied allegations that ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are subject to torture and forced labour.
The government said in response to the committee’s findings that it was “aware of reports that have suggested links between a number of Chinese technology companies, including Hikvision and Dahua, and human rights violations in Xinjiang”.
In response to the parliamentarians’ action it said in a statement, “We take the security of our citizens, systems and establishments very seriously and have a range of measures in place to scrutinise the integrity of our arrangements.”
Madeleine Stone of Big Brother Watch said, “no democracy should have this kind of surveillance tech on its streets”.
Hikvision said it honours human rights throughout its business operations, while Dahua said it follows “all applicable local, national and international laws, regulations and conventions” and “has not and never will develop solutions targeting any specific ethnic group”, responding to reports alleging it developed tools designed to target ethnic Uyghurs.