A Chinese security camera company has been advertising ethnicity recognition features to British and other European customers, even while it faces a ban on UK operations over allegations of involvement in ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang.
In a brochure published on its website, Hikvision advertised a range of features that it said it could provide in collaboration with the UK startup FaiceTech.
These included using facial recognition for retail security, border control, and anti-money laundering checks for retail banking.
The brochure also advertised “Optional Demographic Profiling Facial analysis algorithms”, including “gender, race/ethnicity, age” profiling. A second, Italian-based, company was also cited on Hikvision’s website as offering racial profiling.
The company removed both claims from its website following an inquiry from the Guardian, and said the technology had never been sold in the UK. The document, it said, detailed the “potential application of our cameras, with technology built independently by FaiceTech and other partners”.
FaiceTech denied ever having worked with Hikvision, and said the brochure was created and published without its knowledge or consent. In a legal letter sent to Hikvision, seen by the Guardian, the British company demanded the document be removed since it “is likely to deceive the public into a mistaken belief that our client is in some way associated with Hikvision”.
The brochures were first discovered by the campaign group Big Brother Watch. In a statement, Madeleine Stone, the group’s legal and policy officer, 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 normalising 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.”
Hikvision was placed on a US trade blacklist in 2019, after the US Commerce department said it had “been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups”.
The company has acknowledged that its cameras may have been used in the country’s “re-education camps”, and was discovered in 2019 to have marketed at least one …….