Some in biometric surveillance industry think Uyghur-targeting vendors are getting a pass
If the Security Industry Association was expecting a pat on the back for booting from its ranks a surveillance system vendor suspected of assisting China with its Uyghur-specific prison system, well, no luck.
Association leaders have announced an unprecedented move on their part. They said they no longer wanted anything to do with China-based Dahua Technology, a partially state-owned biometric surveillance systems maker.
Dahua’s facial recognition systems reportedly are significant tools in Beijing’s decades-long campaign to identify, round up and imprison Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority in China.
Oppressed because they are not seen by political leaders as sufficiently Chinese, Uyghurs became open targets for rights abuses after 9/11, which was, of course, carried out by radicalized, aggressively fundamentalist Muslims.
IPVM, an online publication that tests and reports on surveillance video systems, has doggedly reported on the topic of surveillance systems used unethically in China, occasionally breaking international news stories.
IPVM editors created a video last year explaining that Dahua has written “discriminatory software” specifically to identify people suspected of being Uyghurs with biometrics.
This year came accusations that Dahua and others co-authored biometric surveillance standards, one of which contained an ethnicity identifier code. Company representatives have denied participating in the standard.
In a response, Dahua claimed the SIA’s decision was based on reporting from “a single outlet,” apparently referring to an investigation by IPVM and the Los Angeles Times, the core allegations of which the company says are false.
While there is no reason to expect news of the SIA’s expulsion of Dahua to result in palm fronds laid in the association’s path, the comment section of an IPVM article detailing the move turned into a free-fire zone targeting association leaders and members.
Several anonymous posters (identified only as “undisclosed” integrator, distributor and manufacturer) accused the SIA of ignoring unethical development and sales not just by Dahua but Hikvision and other Chinese players.
The organization seems to have won a new acronym moniker among non-fans: SIAAH, or SIA (medical term: anuses).
The best the SIA could get from those posting was a lone voice saying its staff is mostly hapless but well-intentioned.
Ill will grew to knocks on IPVM itself, with one poster saying that editors should not accept products for review from suspect Chinese firms.
John Honovich, founder of IPVM, has acknowledged that point. In 2019, he opened a forum with: “We are going to continue to test all major products but we do want members (of IPVM) to understand our reasoning….”
That article was and remains behind a subscription wall.