Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

The British government on Thursday told its departments to stop installing China-linked surveillance cameras in sensitive buildings, citing security risks.

The decision comes after a review of “current and potential future security risks associated with the installation of a visual surveillance system on government property,” Minister Oliver Dowdens said in a written statement to parliament.

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“The review concluded that, in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capabilities and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are needed,” Dowden said.

The British directive applies to cameras made by companies subject to Chinese security laws and includes guidance for departments to disconnect such devices from main computer networks and to consider removing them altogether.

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It comes months after dozens of lawmakers called for a ban on the sale and use of security cameras made by Hikvision and Dahua, two partly state-owned Chinese companies, over privacy fears and concerns that the companies’ products are linked to human rights abuses in China.

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The British offices of Hikvision and Dahua did not immediately respond to emails from Reuters seeking comment.

The United States has lifted restrictions on the trade and use of cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua and other Chinese companies.

Most UK public bodies use surveillance cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua, privacy group Big Brother Watch said in July.

A number of government departments, including the interior and economy ministries, had Hikvision cameras in visible use on the facade of their buildings, the group said.

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Dowden’s statement said that following a government review: “Ministers have therefore been instructed to stop placing such equipment in sensitive locations, where it is manufactured by companies subject to the National Intelligence Service Act of the People’s Republic of China.”

“As security issues are always paramount around these sites, we are now taking action to prevent any security risks from materializing.”

— Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar, writing by William James; Edited by Kate Holton

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