The British government on Thursday told its departments to stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras at sensitive buildings, citing security risks.
The decision comes after a review of “current and future possible security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on the government estate,” cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden said in a written statement to parliament.
“The review has concluded that, in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required,” 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 core computer networks and to consider removing them altogether.
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 firms, over privacy fears
and concerns of the companies’ products being linked to human
rights abuses in China.
Hikvision in a statement to Reuters denied the claims,
saying the company will further seek to engage with British
authorities to understand the decision.
“Hikvision cannot transmit data from end-users to third
parties, we do not manage end-user databases, nor do we sell
cloud storage in the UK,” a company spokesperson said.
The British office of Dahua did not immediately respond to
emails from Reuters seeking comment.
The United States has slapped trade and usage
restrictions for cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua and other
A majority of British public bodies use surveillance cameras
made by Hikvision or Dahua, privacy advocacy group Big Brother
Watch said in July.
A number of government departments including the
interior and business ministries have had Hikvision cameras
visibly in use on the front of their buildings, the group had
Dowden’s statement said that following the government
review: “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.”
“Since security considerations are always paramount around
these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security