U.S. bans business deals with leading Chinese biometrics providers

Hikvision biometric facial recognition cameras

Tensions generated by COVID-19, China’s actions in Hong Kong and an extensive trade war have led to the U.S. government’s ban on the purchase of services from companies using technology developed by five Chinese companies including Huawei, and top surveillance tech developers Hikvision and Dahua, writes Reuters.

Under a 2019 law, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council’s rule makes it mandatory for companies interested in doing business with the government to certify that they are not integrating any surveillance technology from Dahua or Hikvision, two-way radios from Hytera Communications or telecommunications equipment from Huawei and ZTE Corp.

A government waiver will be necessary for companies to sell this technology or equipment, but the Trump administration has pointed out these will be hard to get, despite the impact the rule will have on contractors. The rule will be applied starting August 13.

“The danger our nation faces from foreign adversaries like China looking to infiltrate our systems is great,” acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought told Reuters. “The Trump Administration is keeping our government strong against nefarious networks like Huawei by fully implementing the ban on Federal procurement.”

Huawei did not comment. Dahua, ZTE, Hikvision and Hytera could not be reached.

Amazon is one of the companies that will be affected by the new rule. A U.S. government contractor, the company purchased 1,500 cameras from Dahua in April for staff temperature monitoring. To receive government waivers, a national security analysis will be conducted.

According to a U.S. official, the rule aims to reduce Chinese influence and encourage companies to do business with the U.S. government instead of Chinese companies.

Last year, the U.S. government released a blacklist banning major biometrics companies including Huawei, Dahua, Hikvision, iFlytek, Megvii, SenseTime, and Yitu.

The Federal Communications Commission have also named Huawei and ZTE Corp as threats to national security and banned U.S. companies from accessing an $8.3 billion government fund to buy services and equipment from them.

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