Hikvision biometric surveillance equipment gets deeper into the Baltics
Hikvision, the partially Chinese state-owned maker of video surveillance and biometric facial recognition systems, bought a Baltic-region wholesaler of surveillance equipment for an undisclosed sum.
A subsidiary of the controversial Chinese facial recognition camera company, Hikvision Singapore Pte. Ltd., formally purchased Estonian wholesaler BK Group, a major — if not the biggest — such vendor from Estonia in the north to Poland in the south.
Hikvision’s stated angle is deeper market dominance through BK Group’s marketing network. A report on the buyout by RWR Advisory Group noted that Hikvision products are “already pervasive” in the Baltics.
The strategically located Baltic nations and Poland were controlled by the Soviet Union until about 1990, and have bitterly rebuffed most efforts to integrate with the Russian Federation in any way. That has included the purchase of surveillance systems that Russia makes and is keen to sell.
In allowing a Chinese biometric surveillance system manufacturer to buy an important wholesaler, the Estonian government is perhaps gambling that warming relations between Russia and China will not result in one hand washing the other in the Baltics.
The Hikvision (formally Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd.) product line has a well-earned reputation for being inexpensive and insecure. The camera maker was one of 28 firms named by the Department of Commerce to the Entity List last year for being involved in government human rights abuses, and in June the White House named it among 20 companies controlled by leaders of China’s military, a common arrangement in large, profitable and strategic domestic businesses.