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  • Tech Journalist

UK bans Chinese CCTV on 'sensitive' government sites

According to a statement from Oliver Dowden, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, CCTV cameras produced by companies subject to the Chinese National Intelligence law should cease being used on sensitive sites.

The main reason for this is that under Chinese law, these companies are obligated to do everything the government asks including surveillance. This represents a security risk to the UK.

"A review of the current and future possible security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on the government estate has concluded that, in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required," the statement from Dowden read.

"Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment onto sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China,” the statement continued.

Government departments have been further directed not to connect the said devices to departmental core networks and to assess whether the Chinese CCTV cameras that are already in place need to be removed and replaced before any system upgrades are done.

Additionally, government departments need to determine whether there are sites that may not be categorised as sensitive but which may benefit from this new policy.

The statement does not mention any specific company that should be blacklisted but various politicians have been pushing to have CCTV cameras from Hikvision and Dahua banned. These companies are partially owned by the Chinese government and the politicians say they have previously been used as instruments of repression of the Muslim Uighur people in China's Xinjiang province.

The companies have already been banned in the USA for this same reason. China has refuted these claims that it abused human rights in Xinjiang and the targeted companies maintain that their number one priority is delivering excellent products to their customers rather than serving the interests of the Chinese government.

Still, there has not been enough to reassure anybody amid growing concern around the world that Chinese products can be leveraged to map networks and gather useful intelligence. There is also the fear that Chinese vendors could be members of the Communist Party.

Another major concern is that Chinese equipment could be maliciously compromised through software updates or under the command of the Chinese government.

There have been no mentions of when this new policy comes into effect.


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