Hikvision hires lobbyist to fight U.S. government surveillance technology ban

Mercury Public Affairs will represent Hikvision USA under a one-year, $840,000 agreement, to determine the impact of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provisions on the company, handle its responses to them, and perform outreach with U.S. government officials.

Hikvision cameras and facial recognition systems have been installed in U.S. airports, prisons, schools, homes, and military bases, and were installed in the American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, until 2016.

Mercury is a unit of Omnicom, and provides strategic consulting and management services, such as lobbying and government relations work. It is the latest addition to Hikvision’s roster of lobbyists in Washington, which the Daily Beast reports also includes Sidley Austin, Glover Park Group, and Burson-Marteller. Mercury is being retained for $70,000 a month through August, 2019.

The NDAA was signed into law earlier this month, and bans several Chinese government-backed companies, including Hikvision, from U.S. government contracts. Hikvision is 42 percent owned by China Electronics Technology Group, a government entity. The extent of the Act’s effects are not entirely clear, according to the Beast, due to ambiguous language that may or may not extend the ban to Hikvision’s technology partners.

The South China Morning Post reports that investors began dumping Hikvision shares even before the Act was signed into law.

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