Council to stop buying Chinese cameras over potential security risk

Hikvision surveillance has been installed widely across both the public and private sector, including locally in Perth and Kinross.

Perth and Kinross Council to stop buying Chinese surveillance cameras over potential security risk iStock

Perth and Kinross Council has agreed to stop buying Chinese-manufactured surveillance cameras after they were deemed a potential security risk.

Hikvision cameras have been installed widely across both the public and private sector, including locally.

One councillor raised concerns about Perth and Kinross Council’s (PKC) use of them over fears they could be used by the Chinese Communist Party.

Officially, the Communist Party of China is the sole ruling party of the People’s Republic of China.

Strathearn Conservative councillor Noah Khogali – who used to live in China – has expressed “deep concern” about PKC’s use of the cameras.

He said the cameras were “considered a potentially seismic security risk, as fears of covert Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surveillance of UK citizens continues to make headlines”.

Last week Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole Hamilton held a members debate relating to surveillance of Scots by the CCP through Hikvision cameras.

Perth and Kinross Council is one of a number of local authorities in Scotland that uses the cameras.

Councillor Khogali has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council asking the locations, numbers, and cost to the public purse of the cameras.

Earlier this month – on February 8 – he and Bailie Alasdair Bailey tabled a motion for Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) to sever its links with the CCP and affiliated bodies but it was rejected by councillors.

Cllr Khogali said: “I am incredibly concerned about the implications of Perth and Kinross using this security technology. I tried to get PKC to break links with the CCP and explicitly condemn their human rights violations, but it was voted down by other councillors.

“There are few things more concerning than a dangerous government, like the CCP, watching your every move.

“Having lived in China for years, I know how unnerving it is to have every move you make monitored.

“The UK Government is clearly becoming increasingly concerned about the security implications of using Hikvision cameras, and we in Perth and Kinross should take action to protect the privacy and security of the people of Perth and Kinross (including those who had fled the persecution of the CCP especially), and remove all of these cameras immediately.”

A PKC spokesperson confirmed the council was aware of concerns and had paused procuring any more of the cameras.

The spokesperson said: “The council is aware of the concerns about the security of these cameras through various national groups attended by officers. This is a UK-wide issue and it is clear these cameras have been widely installed across the public and private sector.

“As soon as the council received word of this issue, via a security briefing, it established a moratorium on any further procurement of them. Council officers remain actively engaged with the various UK and Scottish security groups considering this and we await further guidance from government.”

Hikvision cameras have been turned off by public bodies in Wales.

The company has denied any threat to national security, previously stating: “Hikvision cameras are compliant with the applicable UK laws and regulations and are subject to strict security requirements.

“We have always been fully transparent about our operations in the UK.”

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