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UK Biometrics Commissioner wades into Foreign Affairs’ ban of Hikvision products

Sampson inquires over firm’s alleged human rights abuses
UK Biometrics Commissioner wades into Foreign Affairs’ ban of Hikvision products

The UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson has responded to a letter published by Chinese camera manufacturer Hikvision.

The move comes following a Foreign Affairs Committee report calling on the UK government to ban Hikvision equipment from the UK, on the basis of the firm’s alleged provision of face biometric technology in support of human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in China.

In the letter, which was spotted by Business Insider, Hikvision denied the allegations, calling the ban a ‘knee-jerk reaction.’

For context, the Chinese firm’s cameras are currently used by several councils across London and the UK, according to Reuters.

The facial recognition tools were also used in the U.S. until a ban passed in 2019 came into effect last year.

According to a recent report, however, China would be currently getting around the ban via thousands of dollars worth of equipment made by a pair of U.S. companies and being sold to Xinjiang police.

The call for a ban of the technology in the UK by the Foreign Affairs Committee, and its acknowledgment by the Biometrics Commissioner now leaves the ball on Hikvision’s court.

Sampson has reportedly written to the company, asking whether the firm accepts the “basic premise, namely that crimes are being committed against the Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

At the time of writing, Hikvision has not yet provided a formal response to the Commissioner’s letter.

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