More than 300 different U.S. government organizations—among them city, county, and town governments, as well as schools—have purchased cameras and surveillance systems from two blacklisted Chinese tech companies since August 2019, according to government contract data.
The two companies are Hikvision and Dahua Technology, and their recent business deals with U.S. local governments were reviewed by IPVM, a Pennsylvania-based video surveillance research firm, based on government contracts obtained through GovSpend, a technology company based in Florida. On May 24, IPVM published its findings in partnership with TechCrunch.
Buying equipment and services from Hikvision and Dahua is an issue due to cybersecurity and human rights concerns associated with the two tech companies. In fact, federal agencies are prohibited from buying from the two companies due to significant national security risks outlined under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019. The prohibition went into effect in August 2019.
Hikvision and Dahua were also among a group of China-based companies added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s blacklist in October 2019 over their roles in supporting the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses in China’s far-western Xinjiang region. U.S. companies are required to apply for a special government license before they can do business with blacklisted companies.
The Chinese regime’s crackdown on ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang—subjecting them to abuses including torture, sterilizations, political indoctrination, and forced labor—has been denounced as “genocide” by Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, and the United States.
Most recently in March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Hikvision and Dahua as companies posing a threat to U.S. national security. Three other Chinese companies receiving the same designation were Huawei, ZTE, and Hytera Communications.
Despite the NDAA ban and federal warnings, Hikvision and Dahua have continued to make inroads into the U.S. market at the state and local level. Regional governments are only prohibited to use federal funds to buy from the two companies.
BY FRANK FANG