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UK could ban Hikvision CCTV cameras amid surging sales and security concerns

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance  |  Trade Notes
UK could ban Hikvision CCTV cameras amid surging sales and security concerns

Chinese CCTV firm Hikvision could soon be banned from selling its products as former conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has urged the UK government to impose a comprehensive trading ban, following an increase in the company’s UK sales last year.

Recent financial filings revealed that Hikvision’s direct sales to UK and Irish customers increased to £32.6 million (roughly $41.4 million) in 2023, up from £14.8 million (around $18.8 million) the previous year, CityA.M. reports. Hikvision UK Limited’s total revenue, encompassing both direct sales and technical support, also rose by 22 percent, reaching £50.8 million (roughly $64.5 million).

The boost in sales occurred despite a 2022 government ban on the use of CCTV equipment from companies required to share information with Beijing under China’s national intelligence law. The ban, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, specifically targets the deployment of these cameras at ‘sensitive’ sites. Dowden revealed that the decision was taken “in the light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems.”

The former conservative leader told the Telegraph that “the financials showed the need for a wider crackdown”.

The increasing reliance on facial recognition technology by UK retailers to combat rising shoplifting incidents brought Hikvision into the spotlight last year. The increase in Hikvision’s product sales comes despite British retailers like Tesco, Co-op and Morrisons banning the use of their cameras.

In 2022, it was reported that more than a million Hikvision cameras were installed in the UK, many in public places. At the time, Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Fraser Sampson called the widely-embedded cameras “digital asbestos.” The UK’s College of Policing installed 59 Hikvision cameras in 2021.

In the midst of this, Hikvision released the Hikvision Global Human Rights Policy, which emphasizes the company’s commitment to embedding respect for human rights within its governance and operations.

Biometric Update reached out to Hikvision for a comment, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

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