Hikvision: The World’s Largest Surveillance Company You’ve Never Heard Of

For example, the study found that there are 55,455 Hikvision networks in London. “Based on my experience walking around London, it’s probably several times more than that. They’re available in almost every supermarket,” said Top10VPN researcher Samuel Woodhams, who carried out the study.

The prevalence of Hikvision cameras overseas has raised national security concerns, although it has not been proven that the company transferred its overseas data back to China. In 2019, the United States passed a bill Hikvision is prohibited from entering into any contracts with the federal government.

What really gave Hikvision notoriety on the global stage was its involvement in China’s repressive policies against Muslim minorities, mainly Uighurs, in Xinjiang. Numerous surveillance cameras have been installed inside and outside the Xinjiang internment camps, many equipped with advanced facial recognition technology, to help the government control the region. Hikvision has been an important part of this activity. company found It has won government contracts of at least $275 million to establish surveillance in the region and develop artificial intelligence cameras that can detect physical characteristics of Uighurs.

When MIT Technology Review raised concerns about Xinjiang with Hikvision, Hikvision responded with a statement that did not address the issues directly, but said the company “has and will continue to strictly abide by our operations. Applicable laws and regulations of the country in which it is located, and follow internationally recognized business ethics and business standards.”

“the way [companies like Hikvision] Being able to keep people in place with checkpoints and facial recognition systems, at least from a Uyghur perspective, turns the whole area into a flexible area [but] closed system. They often refer to it as an open-air prison,” says an anthropologist at Simon Fraser University, ” In Concentration Camps: China’s High-Tech Criminal Colony. “It really wouldn’t be possible without these tech companies.”

uncharted waters

Adding Hikvision to the SDN would not only heighten tensions between the U.S. and China, it would also open up a new front of international sanctions that would increasingly involve tech companies in geopolitical power struggles.

Healey said that once sanctions were announced, people could be subject to criminal prosecution for working or doing business with the company: “[Hikvision] Can no longer interact with the U.S. dollar or the U.S. financial system. And other banks and other financial institutions around the world, in general, won’t do business with you either, because they want to maintain access to the U.S. dollar and U.S. financial markets. ”

At the very least, that means Hikvision won’t be able to sell its cameras outside of China, and its international revenue will drop to zero. But it is unclear whether governments and companies that already use Hikvision cameras will be asked to replace them immediately. Then, when it comes to Hikvision services beyond hardware, things get trickier. Can current Hikvision users receive software updates from the company? Using company cloud storage? “It’s the kind of thing [the US government] There may be an exception here,” Healy said, because traditional enforcement of SDN lists may become impractical in the digital age.

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