back to article UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner grills Hikvision on China human rights abuses

The China-based surveillance equipment manufacturer accused of being linked to the human rights abuse of the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang has denied any wrongdoing in a heated exchange with the UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner. Eye-catchingly, Hikvision's denials came in a series of letters published by Surveillance …

  1. sitta_europea Silver badge

    When did you stop beating your wife?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it is beyond our capability to make a judgement on this matter"

    No it is not.

    You are quite capable of making a judgement on the treatment of the Uighur people. It's just that, if you do, you'll likely be locked up with them.

    "we do ensure our cameras are designed to protect communities and property "

    Oh really ? How ?

    Do you refuse to film people who are abused by the State ?

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Our companies cannot operate in China in the same way as Chinese companies can operate here.

    Maybe it's time to boot them out.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      An Easy Equation

      If you are not a member of the Chinese Communist Party you are a terrorist or separatist.

      The world is waking up to their oppressive regime.




      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: An Easy Equation

        It's the ists who are a problem ...

        terrorists, separatists, racists, psychiatrists, maoists, receptionists, sexists, florists, communists, chemists, socialists, optimists, wantedlists ...

        1. EnviableOne

          Re: An Easy Equation

          Cos those florists give me sneezes designed to make the chemists loadsa money from selling pills to stop them

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: An Easy Equation


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reciprocity

      Indeed, it's not fair,

      *UK* CCTV camera makers kit should be deployed throughout Xinjiang and used in internment camps. They should have a crack at that market.

      Chinese CCTV makers should be kicked out of UK, and their kit no longer deployed throughout UK and their prisons, till that happens.




      The UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner is right to immediately demand all Chinese made CCTV cameras be ripped out of the UK, if they are used for oppression in China, (and not for safety as they are in the UK.)

      Only once they can stop their cameras being used anywhere oppressive, should they be allowed to be rolled back out on every UK street and in every UK building watching every UK citizen 24/7, for safety reasons, again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reciprocity

        We should kick ALL Chinese stuff out, ban all imports, most of it won't last more than a month anyway !

  4. DJV Silver badge

    "The Register wholeheartedly endorses the idea of marsupial-based media scrutiny."

    Indeed, and if you don't like what they're saying you can always tell them to hop off.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Instead of a kangaroo court, why not trial by wombat?

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "why not trial by wombat?"

        Because wombats aren't cute - they have nasty claws.

        1. Warm Braw

          Re: "why not trial by wombat?"

          they have nasty claws

          So do kangaroos - and they're considerably larger than the average wombat.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: "why not trial by wombat?"

          And Vultures have sharp claws and a beak.

          Icon -->

          Trial by Penguin, when someone annoys Linus Torvalds

        3. WilliamBurke

          Re: "why not trial by wombat?"

          ...but I would not engage the wombat

          in any form of mortal combat.

          Ogden Nash

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        RE: why not trial by wombat?

        Trial by AI would be very topical...

        No, no not THAT AI, I mean the ones that defecate on the ground, not in the trees (thankfully).

      3. eldakka

        > Instead of a kangaroo court, why not trial by wombat?

        As long as we get to use Diprotodons, I'm in! (basically a hippo-sized wombat)

      4. Scott Wheeler

        The Wombat

        The wombat lives across the seas,

        Among the far Antipodes.

        He may exist on nuts and berries,

        Or then again, on missionaries;

        His distant habitat precludes

        Conclusive knowledge of his moods.

        But I would not engage the wombat

        In any form of mortal combat.

        -- Ogden Nash

  5. Sgt_Oddball

    To be fair though...

    Once equipment is in the hands of users how much control a business has over its use is somewhat limited.

    I mean if we're going to take this stance over Chinese CCTV cameras, should the same scrutiny be offered on British bombs sold overseas? Maybe Colt small arms in the US should be implicated if some PMC commits a war crime? How about pressing Intel/AMD to make steps to stop hackers using their CPU's? How about blaming car manufacturers for drink driving?

    It's the same ignorance that somehow thinks we can use technology wrongly to think of the children (as opposed to honest police work...).

    1. Silver badge

      Re: To be fair though...

      You say that, but many of their products phone home. I purchased one of their PoE cameras and caught packets flowing back to a server in China. I was unable to tell what their use was but they were pretty sizeable. Depending on what that data is, then it could be enough to argue that they could be able to tell what their cameras were being used for if prompted about it, since deniability is the whole concern here. And since, yes, they have been shown to install and manage their own products before unlike what they released to the regulator in their statement, it's entirely possible they had a hand in installing the cameras in the camps in the first place.

      And about your comparisons. CPUs don't phone home (supposedly), though the software that comes recommended by the vendors might. And legislators/car companies are already installing breathalizers in their cars, with some wanting to make it mandatory (at least here in the States).

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: To be fair though...

        Some products will not call home until they are woken up. Some use a technique called port knocking, where it would for example open up an SSH port after you send a special data packet and then you can log in to the device and do whatever you want.

      2. Sgt_Oddball

        Re: To be fair though...

        Tesla cars phone home though. Cisco routers phoned the NSA... Everything we own these days is telling tails to someone.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To be fair though...

        Got any proof?

        I’m a cyber researcher and have not found any evidence of this for the last 6 years of trying!

        Yes I doubt what you’re saying, but equally I’d like to study it if it is true ;)

        All help gratefully received

        1. Silver badge

          Re: To be fair though...

          ...About what in particular? The cameras? I no longer use them.

          Here's a nice intro to the rabbit hole, apparently they discontinued some of their cloud junk so I don't know if what I said is still relevant.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: To be fair though...

      Read the last blockquote in the article. Or, better yet, follow the PDF to read the letter - which makes clear that Hikvision will operate this system. They are not just supplying the kit, they are supplying the prison guards.

      So while there might be a discussion to be had about simply selling on cameras, Hikvision are a long way beyond that. They have to decide whether they want to flog stuff to the West or run Uyghur panopticons for the Chinese government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: To be fair though...

        I think you’ll find that Dahua run the Police Stations in these areas…

    3. Cuddles

      Re: To be fair though...

      "should the same scrutiny be offered on British bombs sold overseas?"


  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    What are the boundaries?

    Sell cameras to a state that uses them for nefarious activities - BAN THEM!

    Sell electronics to a state that could apply them to military hardware - BAN THEM

    Sell weapons to a state to blow people to smithereens - Great, give them a subsidy.

    Sell weapons to state police and military where people on the streets are shot in cold blood - that's ok too as long as it's done 'lawfully' in the US or even N. Ireland ...

    Whilst I don't want to give judgement over Hik in this case I will say that the Government's historic position is less than clear ...

  7. TVC

    I've got a Hikvision CCTV system - do I bin it?

    I've had a Hikvision CCTV system for a while and it is very good, the best I've had and excellent value - though someone in China can probably watch our cats and foxes as well as us.

    After I bought it I realised Hikvision is probably a company I should avoid, as I do with Huawei.

    Nothing I can do now. They've had my money so no point in scrapping it and any replacement is also likely to come from China.

    The only solution is for British companies to get competitive. I'd willingly pay more for non Chinese stuff.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: I've got a Hikvision CCTV system - do I bin it?

      Consider Vivotek cameras and the free recording software (if less than 32 cameras). Taiwan made so (currently) free of Chinese gov control and they work quite well.

      Failing that, at least set your firewall rules to block the CCTV system from sending stuff out. Unless you actually want/need some cloud service from the supplier.

      Also if you do anything vaguely security based then have your internal network partitioned so the cameras have no sight of your PC, NAS, etc.

  8. Sgt_Oddball

    I too...

    Have a HIK vision system at home (came with the house).

    I can route traffic to a cloud based login system through HIK's servers (Europe based in my instance) or through a firewall hole (via changed ports, redirected, encrypted traffic etc) and I've not seen any traffic going places it shouldn't when I've listened to what it's upto.

    The irony of sorts is the previous owner worked for EDF on nuclear reactor design so the sort to have sensitive stuff and if trusted it, I don't think I've got too much to worry about. (it's also on multiple occasions made local oiks nope away from the end of the drive after they spotted the cameras, that and the large gravel with a nice 'crunch' sound with each step).

    1. TDog

      Cocktail party effect

      Well now that you have flagged up the previous owners occupation you can probably expect all of the old stored history to be re-assessed. So unless this is some obscure form of self-swatting just hope that no interesting documents or sticks still remain forgotten stuffed down a sofa

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    CCTV in England is obviouslty a new trend....

    When it comes to spying on you maybe you should look closer to home. Back in 2007 after the London bombings the police identified the suspects in hours using CCTV images. Its practically the first question the police ask after a crime report -- 'Got CCTV?'. Video imagery has been part of the fabric of UK life for decades, since well before companies like Hikvision existed. You can't move in a British town centre without appearing on video, its the reason why hoodies became popular among young people, people who wished to hide their faces.

    So now video equipment, like everything else, seems to be made in China. Does that mean that the Chinese are particularly interested a Saturday night drunken brawl in some obscure British town centre? Are they fascinated by the security implications of a traffic jam? I'd guess not. But at the same time we should be asking ourselves what literally decades of video surveillance have done for us (aside from making hoodies fashionable). My take is that its led to automated traffic law enforcement and a generally lazy attitude to policing -- if its not on CCTV and it doesn't show recognizable faces and features then the crime's not worth investigating (unless it involves someone important, of course).

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: CCTV in England is obviouslty a new trend....

      How good are they at recognising A(ussie)-list celebs out and about in HK when they should be isolating?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner

    never knew we had one! Is it the person and his minions who's also supposed to surveil the surveillance of UK's citizens by the UK's police? I do recognize it's the Krushchov's 'And you are lynching Negroes!" diversion, but I would _really_ like UK's Sur-Cam-Com to focus on surveillance by the UK's state against UK's subjects, first and foremost...

  11. AnotherOldFart

    Why Not Look Closer To Home

    I've never worked out why being spied on by a foreign Government is scarier than being spied on by your own. UK agencies have far more opportunity to make my life a a misery than China does and seems far more likely to.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I've never worked out why being spied on by a foreign Government is scarier...


      If you live in UK, but were previously from a country where you were critical of the government, then you might be interested in the origin of manufacture of such hardware.

      1. ITMA Silver badge

        Re: I've never worked out why being spied on by a foreign Government is scarier...

        Ok - try to do almost anything which does not contain ANYTHING made in China.

        You'll find it very hard, especially technology.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why Not Look Closer To Home

      That's not what this is about though. The question at hand is merely "should those who are complicit in acts of genocide be allowed to freely do business in the UK?"

  12. orphic

    Typically English hypocrisy. A critique of China from the most highly CCTV surveilled society, neglecting to mention Israel which is the second most CCTV surveilled society. The condoning of Israeli CCTV surveillance of West Bank Palestinians makes a mockery of any claims of ethnic persecution through surveillance by China.

    And no Israeli CCTV manufacturer has been placed under sanctions, instead Israel propagates its tech globally with a myriad of surveillance tools like Pegasus.

  13. ITMA Silver badge

    What an utter crock.....

    Ok, if the route the UK commission wishes to take is "ban HikVision because of the application one of its major customers (the Chinese Government) uses their products for".

    Then the next logical step is ban everything made in the UK because we sell weapons and weapons systems to anyone with the money and the rigtht old boys club connections.

    How many such products used for "nefariouos activities" by foreign governments contain ARM technology? BAN ARM!

    Utterly childish attitude and pure political posturing to be seen to be doing something when the reality is UK commission can do SFA.

    It's the old "what does the killing? - the hammer or the killer weilding it instead of using it to build something?"

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