Chinese spy cameras 'completely dominating' UK market as Beijing's network floods nation


Security cameras from the Chinese market "line the streets" of Britain, a new study from BBC's Panorama revealed.

The BBC found Hikvision and Dahua-branded security cameras make up a majority of those located around the UK. In fact, the two firms are considered two of the largest video surveilance companies across the globe.

Their combined profit averages around £2billion a year. The Panorama investigation said China has been accused of using CCTV cameras to monitor the Muslim Uygher population.

According to human rights groups, China has detained more than a million Uyghurs in what the state calls "re-education camps". The Uyghurs are considered native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north west China.

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, told the BBC: "Cameras made by Hikevision and Dahua line the streets, where they are not only watching people but actively analysing them.

"Even with horrendous features like ethnicity alerts, where they can pick people out of a crowd if they believe to be Uyghur."

The BBC says China however claims the "lawful rights" of people from an Uyghur background are "fully protected".

Meanwhile Hikvision told the broadcaster minority recognition was "phased out" in 2018. The firm says it "recognises its corporate responsiblity to respect human rights".

Dahua said it "has never and will never" develop a product that would identifty or target people from specific ethnicities.

Big Brother Watch says it spent "months and months" submitting Freedom of Information requests and found most public bodies use Chinese state-owned security cameras.

The BBC says "nobody knows" how many Hikvision and Dahua cameras are actually in the UK. Although, Big Brother Watch estimates 227 councils and 15 police forces use Hikvision cameras and 35 councils Dahua.

Carlo added: "You're talking about data on millions and millions of people that could processed to potentially generate very detailed reports about each of us and what we do.

"If that sounds hyperbolic, then you really need to understand what it is the Chinese government does in terms of surveillance in its own country, against its own population."

Panorama revealed the cameras can be exploited for surveillance. Working with security firm IPVM, it remotely hacked into a backdoor of the camera.

Having hacked into a dummy network set up at the Beeb, it took the security firm 11 seconds to gain control of a camera. Hikvision told the broadcaster its cameras do not have a backdoor and were not "deliberately programmed" with a flaw allowing hackers to gain access.

A second test, using Dahua cameras, found they would "wiretap" the network. The firm said it issued a fix however that stopped this being the case.

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