Hikvision, a leading Chinese surveillance company, has denied 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’s The National Intelligence Law, which requires 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 false to represent Hikvision as a threat to national security.”
The company said it hoped to engage with UK officials “urgently” to understand the decision and had previously spoken to the UK government to clarify what it saw as misunderstandings about its business.
“Hikvision is an equipment manufacturer that has no visibility into end-user video data,” the Hangzhou-based company said. “Hikvision cannot access the video data of end users and cannot transmit data from end users to third parties. We do not manage end user databases nor do we sell cloud storage in the UK.”
In a statement to the UK parliament on Thursday, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said that following a security review, government departments had been instructed to stop deploying equipment made by companies subject to the National Intelligence Act.
Dowden mentioned “the threat to the UK and the increased capability and connectivity of these systems”, without elaborating.
Government departments have also been advised consider whether to “remove and replace such equipment where it is located in sensitive locations rather than waiting for any planned upgrades,” he said. The minister added that departments could consider whether sites not considered sensitive should also take similar measures.
The move comes months after UK lawmakers called for a ban on technology from Hikvision and Dahua, another Chinese surveillance camera maker, citing allegations the firms were involved in enabling human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The United States in 2019 placed Hikvision and other Chinese companies on a trade blacklist, barring them from importing American technology on similar charges.
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 UK parliament said that Chinese companies should be banned from selling their products in the country.
Big Brother Watch said at the time that it had “found that most public bodies use CCTV cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua, including 73% of councils across the UK, 57% of secondary schools in England, 6 of 10 National Health Service Trusts, as well as universities and police forces in the United Kingdom.”
Earlier this year, a UK health minister revealed he had 82 Hikvision products in use in his department.
Hikvision, in its statement, said its cameras complied with UK laws and were “subject to strict security requirements”.
Dahua did not immediately respond to a request for comment.