ICCL’s Dr Kris Shrishak said Ireland is ‘out of step’ with international colleagues in the EU, US and Australia that have all banned Hikvision’s tech from government buildings.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has raised “urgent concerns” about the use of Hikvision surveillance cameras in Leinster House and Government buildings.
According to the watchdog, Hikvision is implicated in “grave human rights violations” against Uyghur Muslims in China. The Chinese state-owned manufacturer of video surveillance equipment also raises “significant national security concerns” for its use in Leinster House.
The ICCL wrote in a letter to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the Office of Public Works and political party leaders yesterday (12 February) that Hikvision is contracted to operate Chinese state surveillance of Uyghur Muslims.
“[This technology] targets Uyghurs based on racial attributes and flags them for detention at mass internment camps,” the letter read, referring to the arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs which the UN considers may constitute crimes against humanity.
Dr Kris Shrishak, a technology fellow at the ICCL, said that Ireland is “out of step” with international colleagues in Europe, Australia and the US, who are “banning and removing these cameras” from their government buildings.
The Australian government committed to ban Hikvision cameras from government buildings across the country last week, while Scotland, Denmark, the US and the European Union have all banned their cameras over the past couple of years.
“We have written to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the Office of Public Works and political party leaders as a matter of calling on them to urgently remove the cameras and associated equipment from Leinster House,” said Shrishak.
The ICCL said the Chinese Communist Party is a controlling stakeholder in Hikvision and that investigations have discovered Hikvision devices report back to China.
“The use of these cameras pose privacy, data protection and potential national security risks, as well as being linked to gross human rights abuses. ICCL believes they should be immediately removed from all Government buildings.”
In a statement to SiliconRepublic.com, a spokesperson from Hikvision has said that it is “categorically false to represent Hikvision as a threat to national security.
“No respected technical institution or assessment has come to this conclusion. As a manufacturer, Hikvision does not store end-users’ video data, does not offer cloud storage in the Republic of Ireland and therefore cannot transmit data from end-users to third parties. Hikvision cameras are compliant with the applicable Irish laws and regulations and are subject to strict security requirements.”
The spokesperson added, “Hikvision products are sold via distribution partners and the company does not have direct contact with the many public and private sector ‘end-user’ organisations that purchase our products.
“Further, Hikvision takes all reports regarding human rights very seriously and recognizes our responsibility for protecting people. The company has been engaging with governments globally to clarify misunderstandings about the company and our business and address their concerns. As a market leader, Hikvision is committed to upholding the highest standards and respect for human rights,” they said.
Updated, 5.20pm, 13 February 2023: This article was updated to add comments from a Hikvision spokesperson.
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