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Call to ban Chinese biometric camera suppliers from UK gets a parliamentary audience

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance
Call to ban Chinese biometric camera suppliers from UK gets a parliamentary audience

A UK parliamentary event was held Wednesday by Big Brother Watch on the official launch of a report into the dominance of Hikvision and other companies alleged to be complicit in human rights abuses in China. The group is calling for a ban on the vendors and a review of CCTV use in the nation, and appears to have found some support.

The report ‘Who’s Watching You: The dominance of Chinese state-owned CCTV in the UK’ was presented by Big Brother Watch to several Members of Parliament and UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Fraser Sampson, who previewed the event in a blog post.

Conservative MP David Davis lauded the event in a Tweet and encouraged people to read the report.

The report documents the widespread deployment of cameras with face biometrics capabilities from Hikvision, Dahua and other technology providers accused of involvement in repressive surveillance projects in Xinjiang. Two-thirds of UK public bodies are using Chinese-made CCTV equipment, according to the report, and the prevalence of these cameras risks normalizing surveillance with artificial intelligence.

“Over the past 20 years, the UK has become a surveillance state,” the report concludes, and further argues that the sale and operation of cameras from the Chinese vendors could violate the Data Protection Act and the Modern Slavery Act.

Sampson has highlighted the same issue several times of late, asking for procurement processes to be reviewed and engaging with the surveillance camera vendors.

The Commissioner argues that the companies have declined to engage in public accountability measures, and that biometric surveillance is an area in which trust is critical.

“As almost all of the technological capability for biometric surveillance is privately owned, the only way we will be able to harness the legitimate uses of that technology in the future is in trusted partnership with trusted private sector partners,” Sampson writes.

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