Hikvision, China’s security camera firm, has been advertising race and ethnicity recognition features in the European and British markets even while it faces a ban in the U.K. over allegations of supporting the Chinese surveillance state in ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang region.
According to the Guardian, Hikvision’s brochures on its website advertised facial recognition of demographic profiling, including race, ethnicity, gender, and age. The company said it, together with its U.K. partner FaiceTech, could provide this technology for its clients.
After the news outlet broke the story, Hikvision removed all relevant content from the website, claiming that the technology has never been sold in the U.K. FaiceTech denied working with Hikvision, saying the advertisement was published without its knowledge and consent.
The Guardian pointed out that FaiceTech had sent a legal letter to Hikvision asking for the document to be removed because it could lead the public to mistakenly believe that FaiceTech was related to Hikvision.
The civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch first identified the brochures. It accused Hikvision of using this racist feature to repress the Uyghur ethnic group and called on the British government to ban this technology in the country.
The group said: “It is deeply alarming that the same racist technology being used in Xinjiang to repress the Uyghur population is being marketed in Britain. Hikvision is normalizing deeply intrusive surveillance capacities which have no place in a democracy.”
“Hikvision’s surveillance products pose a real threat to rights and security. The government must act now to ban this rights-abusing technology.”
The U.S. placed Hikvision on a blacklist in 2019, citing the Chinese firm had been involved in human rights violations, repressing and detaining Uyghurs and other ethnic-religious minority groups.
The U.K. House of Lords proposed a procurement bill to ban Hikvision’s cameras in the public sector. The legislation asks the British government to publish a schedule to remove surveillance technology and equipment of human rights-violated firms from its procurement supply chain.