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IPVM, a security monitoring publication, reported that Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance equipment maker, received $6 million from the Beijing government for technology used to identify Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group in China. This raised concerns about human rights violations and Hikvision‘s involvement in providing software that allegedly aids in the persecution of Uighur minorities.
Allegations of Human Rights Abuses in China Involving Hikvision
Human rights organizations have pointed to evidence of massive suppression of the Uighur population in China, including tracking, imprisonment, forced labor, and cultural re-education. Hikvision, which was blacklisted by the U.S. in 2019, denies allegations of involvement in human rights abuses and claims to have removed the Uighur identification feature from its software in 2018.
Hikvision‘s Contract with Beijing Raises Concerns
Hikvision‘s contract with the Beijing government requires the installation of cameras, drones, routers, and camera poles, along with software capable of analyzing faces, video footage, and human bodies. The contract also includes services to identify ethnicities, including Uighur. The company’s alleged involvement in monitoring protests in China with specialized software has further raised concerns about privacy and human rights.
U.S. Response to Chinese Surveillance Firms
In response to the perceived threat to national security, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would no longer authorize electronic equipment from Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua. These Chinese telecommunications and surveillance firms were deemed “unacceptable” risks to U.S. national security and placed on the Covered List.