House of Representatives Passes Bill Banning Government Use of Chinese Surveillance Gear
The $717 billion defense-policy bill is the latest move against Chinese technology on the basis of national security concerns.
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jun 01, 2018
A U.S. House resolution which will ban the U.S. government from buying Chinese-made surveillance cameras, along with OEM gear has been passed and will be sent to the Senate for consideration. Introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), the $717 billion defense-policy bill is the latest move against Chinese technology on the basis of national security concerns. The bill passed 351-66.
Thornberry is chairman of the prestigious House Armed Services Committee, which has authorized this spending, including the ban of Chinese surveillance products in the United States, including Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., which is partly owned (42 percent) by the Chinese government and is the world’s biggest maker of surveillance equipment. Included in the ban would be surveillance equipment from Hytera, Huawei and Dahua.
The bill is aimed at shoring up national security. The amendment within the bill voices concerns of Chinese technology, and the growing awareness that Hikvision is owned and controlled by the Chinese government. The minimal impact is increased awareness and publicity of Chinese video surveillance manufacturer risks.
Financial experts in the security industry have surmised that if the Senate agrees to this bill and ratifies it, the direct impact to the Chinese manufacturers would be moderate, as they primarily supply small- to medium-sized businesses, based on lower cost solutions. Both Dahua and Hikvision have been increasing their emphasis on enterprise and government sales with thermal cameras and Artificial Intelligence.
In the United States, the most significant impact may be somewhat of a concern to companies such as ADT, Stanley, Tyco/JCI, Honeywell and UTC that OEM or resell equipment from the Chinese manufacturers. Also, these companies may decide they no longer want to be associated with government banned solutions providers.
A summary of the bill addresses the ban in terms of risky technology associated with the Chinese Communist Party, technology produced by Huawei and ZTE, two companies linked to the Party’s intelligence apparatus.
“We must face the reality that the Chinese-government is using every avenue at its disposal to target the United States, including expanding the role of Chinese companies in the U.S. domestic communications and public safety sectors,” said Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Video surveillance and security equipment sold by Chinese companies exposes the U.S. government to significant vulnerabilities and my amendment will ensure that China cannot create a video surveillance network within federal agencies.”
Hytera Communications Corp. is a provider of radio communications devices, ZTE is the Chinese telecom giant, and Huawei Technologies Co. is China’s largest telecom equipment maker. Telecom great manufactured by ZTE Corp. and Huawei has been blocked from the United States since 2012, when a congressional report warned the equipment could pose a national security threat. Both companies have denied that claim.
Along with the Hikvision- and Dahua-branded equipment portfolios, each company’s extensive OEM or white label agreements would also fall under the technology ban, along with any other vendors that use the company’s equipment.
An active attempt was made to contact Hikvision public relations staff and spokespersons, but they were not available, or chose not to comment on the House bill.
Dahua media relations staff directed Security Today to the following online statement about cybersecurity posted online May 29.
The company emphasizes it maintains “a high level of business integrity” and is “committed to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries in which it does business.”
“Dahua takes cybersecurity seriously and has designated it as a top priority. The company takes a comprehensive and systemic approach to cybersecurity, with complementary and redundant safeguards built into its technology, services and organizational practices,” according to the statement, which is attributed to Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd.
“We are actively working to assure our North American stakeholders that Hikvision strictly abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates,” wrote Jeffrey He, president of Hikvision USA Inc. and Hikvision Canada Inc., in a note to partners in North America. “We also reaffirm the fact that we hold our products to the industry’s global cybersecurity standards, including North America.
“As we continue to monitor and further deploy the necessary resources to address this matter over the coming weeks and months, please know that we will vigorously defend Hikvision from dangerous and unproven accusations about the cybersecurity of our products and solutions.”
Both Hikvision and Dahua are members of the Security Industry Association. SIA has said the amendment pertaining to Chinese surveillance equipment has been submitted to its government relations committee for review.
“Any recommended position by the government relations committee will be referred to the SIA Executive Committee for their consideration and approval,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “If SIA decides to take a position based on member feedback, it will occur during the normal legislative process as the bill is considered by the Senate, and then ultimately a House-Senate conference committee.”