UK bans Chinese CCTV cameras at ‘sensitive’ government locations
Government departments have been told to rip them off core networks and replace them whenever and wherever possible
“A review of the current and future possible security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on the government estate has concluded that, in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required,” reads a statement from Oliver Dowden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (the second-most senior minister in cabinet behind the current PM, Rishi Sunak).
“Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the statement adds.
The advice does not name companies it feels represent a risk, but politicians have campaigned to ban cameras from partly Chinese state-owned CCTV manufacturers Hikvision and Dahua, on grounds that they have been used as instruments of repression of the Muslim Uighur people in China’s Xinjiang province. The US has already barred both vendors from selling their products for the same reason.
China claims it has not abused human rights in Xinjiang. Chinese tech companies consistently claim that, while Chinese law technically obliges them to do any Beijing asks, including surveillance, they have no other ambitions than delivering great products to their customers.
However, there are still concerns that China’s presence could lead to the creation of maps of networks. This is a very useful intelligence tool. It also means that Chinese workers may be part of the Communist Party. There is also the possibility that equipment from China could be damaged by software updates, or even bricked at Beijing’s command.
The UK announcement doesn’t mention funding for Chinese cameras or a time frame for disconnection and/or replacement.
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