British government departments have been ordered to stop installing Chinese-made surveillance cameras in “sensitive” government sites and consider removing the cameras entirely after a security review. A review by the Government Security Group determined additional controls were required “in light of the threat to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems”, particularly involving equipment made by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law, according to Oliver Dowden, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. “Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising,” Dowden said in a written statement to Parliament on Thursday. The law compels businesses registered in China, or which have operations in the country, to hand over information and data to China’s intelligence agencies if asked. Government departments have been advised not to connect any existing equipment to their core networks and consider removing such equipment ahead of scheduled replacement time frames, including from non-sensitive locations, Dowden said. The move comes after a long-running push by Conservative members of Parliament to remove cameras made by China’s Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology from government offices on concerns about security and allegations that such equipment has been used to surveil ethnic Muslims Uygurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in northwest China. Three years ago, the US blacklisted both Hikvision and Dahua alongside a group of companies and public-security bureaus in China, with American officials saying they had been implicated in “human-rights violations and abuses” in Xinjiang. “Removing Chinese surveillance cameras from the [government] estate is a step in the right direction – but we can go much further,” said Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select committee and chair of the Conservative-backed China Research Group. China’s AI champion Hikvision downplays impact of US Nvidia chip ban “Public bodies and local authorities should not be procuring from surveillance companies, such as Hikvision, that have consistently failed to come clean over their complicity in [Chinese Communist Party] CCP-orchestrated human rights abuses against the Uygur people and other minorities in Xinjiang,” Kearns said. “Any ban should be backed up by a new national procurement framework that provides alternatives to Chinese state-backed tech that could be compelled to transfer vast amounts of UK citizen data into the hands of the CCP.” Hikvision said that its cameras are compliant with UK rules and regulations, and subject to strict security requirements. “It is categorically false to represent Hikvision as a threat to national security,” a Hikvision spokesperson said. “No respected technical institution or assessment has come to this conclusion. Hikvision 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.” “We have always been fully transparent about our operations in the UK and have been engaging with the UK government to clarify misunderstandings about the company, our business, and address their concerns,” the spokesperson said. “We will seek to urgently engage further with ministers to understand this decision.” Both Hikvision and Dahua have previously denied being involved in human-rights abuses. Dahua did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. An estimated 1.3 million Hikvision cameras are in operation in Britain. On Monday, the Scottish government confirmed it was phasing out CCTV equipment from Hikvision and other companies from government offices “as part of a multi-year improvement programme” and installing a new integrated security system. This summer, Britain’s Department for Work and Pensions moved to remove Chinese-made surveillance cameras from its buildings amid growing concerns over the equipment. Britain’s Department of Health and Social Care also reportedly banned new purchases of Hikvision equipment earlier this year, but had not forced the removal of existing cameras. A long-anticipated public procurement bill is making its way through Parliament and would give the British government greater powers to block companies tied to human-rights abuses from bidding for local and national government contracts.