The British government has told its departments to stop installing China-linked surveillance cameras in sensitive buildings, citing security risks.
The decision comes after a review of “current and future potential security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on government property”, Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said in a written statement to parliament.
“The review concluded that, given the threat to the UK and the increasing capacity and connectivity of these systems, additional checks are required,” Dowden said.
The UK directive applies to cameras made by companies subject to Chinese security laws and includes guidance for departments to disconnect such devices from central computer networks and consider phasing them out 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 Chinese partly state-owned companies, over fears of life. privacy and concerns that the companies’ products are linked to human rights abuses in China.
Hikvision, in a statement to Reuters, denied the allegations, saying the company would further seek to engage with UK authorities to understand the decision.
“Hikvision cannot pass end user data to third parties,” a company spokesperson said.
“We do not manage end-user databases, nor do we sell cloud storage in the UK.”
Dahua’s UK office did not immediately respond to emails from Reuters seeking comment.
The United States has imposed trade and usage restrictions on cameras made by Hikvision, Dahua and other Chinese companies.
Most UK public bodies use surveillance cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua, privacy group Big Brother Watch said in July.
A number of government departments, including the ministries of interior and business, used Hikvision cameras visibly at the front of their buildings, the group said.
Dowden’s statement said that as a result of the government review, “departments have therefore been instructed to cease the deployment of such equipment to sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the Intelligence Act. national of the People’s Republic of China”.
“As security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking steps now to prevent any security risks from materializing,” Dowden said.