Hikvision, a leading Chinese surveillance firm, has dismissed suggestions it poses a threat to Britain’s national security after the UK government banned the use of its camera systems in “sensitive” locations.
The restrictions announced on Thursday will prevent authorities from installing technology made by companies subject to China National Intelligence Law obliging Chinese citizens and organizations to cooperate with the country’s intelligence and security services.
In a statement to CNN Business on Friday, Hikvision said it was “categorically wrong to portray Hikvision as a threat to national security.”
The company said it hopes to be in touch with UK officials “urgent” to understand the decision and had previously spoken to the UK government to clarify what it saw as misunderstandings about its business.
“Hikvision is a device manufacturer that has no insight into end-user video data,” the Hangzhou-based company said. “Hikvision cannot access end-user video data and cannot transfer end-user data to third parties. We do not manage end user databases nor do we sell cloud storage in the UK.”
In a statement to Britain’s Parliament on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Oliver Dowden said government departments had been ordered to stop using equipment manufactured by companies governed by the National Intelligence Law following a security review.
Dowden cited “the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems” without elaborating.
Government agencies have also been asked to do the same Consider “removing and replacing such equipment when deployed in sensitive locations rather than waiting for planned upgrades,” he said. The minister added that departments could consider whether non-sensitive websites should also take similar action.
The move comes months after British lawmakers called for a ban on the technology of Hikvision and Dahua, another Chinese surveillance camera maker, citing allegations that the companies had been involved in enabling human rights abuses against Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The United States blacklisted Hikvision and other Chinese companies in 2019, banning them from importing US technology over similar allegations.
In a statement released in July by Big Brother Watch, a British non-profit group that investigates the use of surveillance systems, 67 members of the British Parliament said Chinese companies should be banned from selling their products in the country.
Big Brother Watch said at the time it “found that the majority of public bodies use Hikvision or Dahua CCTV cameras, including 73% of local authorities across the UK, 57% of secondary schools in England, 6 in 10 National Health Service Trusts as well British universities and police forces.”
Earlier this year, a UK Health Secretary announced that his department used 82 Hikvision products.
Hikvision said in its statement that its cameras comply with UK law and are “subject to strict security requirements”.
Dahua did not immediately respond to a request for comment.