Dahua and Hikvision biometric cameras not allowed at U.S. universities as contractor ban begins
The deadline for U.S. federal contractors to comply with bans on using equipment from biometric surveillance suppliers Hikvision and Dahua, and tech giant Huawei, came into effect this week, FCW reports.
Five Chinese companies, also including ZTE and Hytera Communications, were sanctioned under Part B of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, as potential cyberthreats. Any company using their gear can now only work with federal agencies with a special waiver.
An interim rule for the Federal Acquisition Rule (FAR) published July 14 set the deadline, and provided initial guidance for businesses on how to implement the necessary changes. A one-year ramp-up period is included in the Act.
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center briefed representatives of affected companies, and also issued a statement.
Contractors can self-certify their compliance, as no independent audit is required, and allowances are made for risk levels, according to the report. Otherwise, they are required to report any covered telecommunications equipment or services they find during the course of their contract.
The government is taking comments on the changes until September 14, before possibly making the rules permanent.
FCW reports that while the Department of Defense has published the clearest implementation guidelines, civilian federal agency contractors have received little or no training on how to ensure compliance, according to Professional Services Council President and CEO David Berteau.
Amazon placed a $10 million order for Dahua’s thermal cameras in April.
Universities count as federal contractors, under the Act, a trio of attorneys from Hogan Lovells write for Lexology.
Michael J. Vernick, Michael J. Scheimer and Stacy M. Hadeka point out that it is unclear whether the definition of “use” under the act applies to equipment used in buildings rented by the contractor, or by employees working from home.
Cameras and contactless biometrics capabilities have been rolling out to universities ahead of the coming school year to keep faculty and students safe, leading companies like Princeton Identity to expand their offerings for the market. Hikvision and Dahua have an estimated 38 percent share of the surveillance camera market, so finding systems that do not involve them may be harder than it would seem at first blush.
The government is working to update the System for Award Management (SAM) so that contractors can provide information on their compliance annually, rather than for each contract.