Hikvision, the surveillance company that could be sanctioned

For a few years, data protection has been something of concern and to which much attention is being paid. Therefore, it is surprising to find information like this in which a surveillance company runs the risk of being sanctioned for something, perhaps, even more serious: the violation of human rights. There are two countries involved in all this, the two world powers China and the US.

But what is Hikvision? It is convenient to take a brief tour of this company that began working in 2001 creating video capture cards, widely used in video surveillance systems. Nevertheless, when 6 years passed they decided to start bringing their own video cameras to the market to later focus on creating the related hardware and software. They were very successful.

Hikvision became a competent surveillance company because of the low prices it offered. This caused them to start noticing it, for example, the government of China. In fact, in 2018 she got a contract to update the surveillance cameras that were in the city of Xi’an. Many of them should already include facial detection and recognition.

Hikvision’s departure abroad and distrust of the US

Given the success that Hikvision had as a surveillance company, it soon began to expand to other countries. Last year, in 2021, the Top10VPN research group decided to conduct a study regarding this to find out, as accurately as possible, how many Hikvision cameras there were in other countries. The result was about 4.8 million in 191 countries outside of China.

This has generated certain reticence, above all, on the part of the US. The mistrust of whether the data could be transferred to China worried and, therefore, in 2019 this country decided to pass a Law in which Hikvision could not have contracts with the Chinese government. However, this has not stopped there and the US is currently planning new sanctions for the video surveillance giant.

The problem, China’s oppressive policies in Xinjiang

The aforementioned study uncovered some scenarios that Hikvision probably wanted to hide. It is known that he participated in China’s oppressive policies in Xinjiang where Muslim people were under constant scrutiny. Hikvision played a key role in this mass surveillancewhich contributed to the government being able to exercise greater control over the Muslim population.

The most serious thing, and that many people are still unaware of, is what this control and surveillance caused in these people. Some were detained and subjected to abuse and torture that truly silences the world. The pressure that the government put on them to abandon their religion, language and cultural customs was excruciating. A violation of human rights in every rule.

We are not wrong in considering them true crimes and the sanctions by the US have already been put in place. These facts that have been made known can cause the imminent fall of Hikvision, since the US intends that the people who, after the issuance of the sanction, work with Hikvision are also prosecuted, which will significantly reduce the client portfolio of the company.

Will other countries follow the US?

The doubt about whether this sanction will be imposed by other countries is still up in the air. There may be countries that do not consider China’s actions so serious as the US has understood them. However, this sanction, when it comes to an end, will be a first step to take action against Hikvision. In addition, there are still many unanswered questions, such as what data you can save in the cloud.

It is true that technology has changed our lives, but it has also made it more difficult to exercise tight control about what Hikvision might do with the data its surveillance cameras may have collected in countries other than China. However, now all efforts are focused on sanctions and the company is, right now, in the spotlight of the whole world.

The problem with all this is that there is the possibility that tensions between China and the US will increase after this. Their situation is no longer ideal and there has always been a slight tension between these two great world powers. However, it does not seem that the US is going to back down on its intentions, so we will have to wait to see what happens after the sanction with Hikvision.

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