The UK Cabinet Office will tell central government departments to remove all surveillance equipment made by Chinese companies including Dahua and Hikvision from sensitive sites in an attempt to limit potential intelligence-gathering by Beijing.
The Cabinet Office announced the decision on February 2, saying that the government “commits to publish a timetable for the removal from sensitive government sites of surveillance equipment manufactured by companies under China’s National Intelligence Law.”
The order, according to two people who are familiar with the plan of the government, was aimed at Hikvision or Dahua. These companies are the largest manufacturers in the world of video security equipment.
Ministers will be expected to assure Tory MPs who are hawkish that they will release the promised timeline within six months after the bill becomes law.
The new measures are a deterrent to those who would harm Britain. They will protect sensitive sectors against companies that could pose a threat to national security.
The Cabinet Office instructed government departments in November to stop using surveillance equipment manufactured by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law. This law requires organisations to “support and assist” state intelligence work.
According to Fraser Sampson, the independent surveillance camera commissioner for the government, the new directive will require a significant amount of equipment from existing government estates. According to research conducted by Fraser Sampson (the government’s independent commissioner for surveillance cameras), at least one third of police forces in England & Wales use Hikvision surveillance cameras.
The two people stated that while the average lifespan of surveillance cameras is seven years the timeline set by the government for removing this equipment will likely be much shorter.
Emily Taylor, CEO at Oxford Information Labs, an cyber intelligence company, said that the ban was based on a plausible, but not proven, security argument. “I see it instead as a further step in the increasing geopolitical tensions expressed through technology restrictions.”
Taylor said: “Now, we’re saying to look at the manufacturer’s flag, and that will let you know whether the device is safe. This is a silly move because, if you check any supply chain in tech, you’ll find China. So where will you stop?
Cabinet Office announced that it would also create a unit to investigate and determine whether “suppliers” who could pose a threat to national security should be banned from participating in public procurements.
Hikvision or Dahua didn’t immediately respond to comments. Hikvision previously stated that it was “categorically wrong” to portray the company as a threat to national security and that the company does not have the capability to transmit data to third parties.
Dahua previously stated that it served British customers “in full compliance” with all laws and regulations and “maintains an extremely high standard of cyber security”.
According to the British Security Industry Association, there are approximately 21 million professional video surveillance cameras used in the UK. Around 210,000 of these cameras, or 1 percent, are used by the public sector.
In 2019 the US banned Hikvision and Dahua, alongside other Chinese artificial-intelligence surveillance companies, from buying American products, alleging the groups were aiding the surveillance and repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s northwestern