Congress Bans Chinese Video Surveillance Equipment in Government Facilities

The bill banning U.S. government use of Dahua and Hikvision products has been passed by both chambers of Congress. The President Trump has voiced support of this bill and is expected to be signed into law.

In May, this ban was introduced as an amendment to the House version of the NDAA defense appropriations bill. However, at that time, the Senate did not include such a ban, raising hopes by Dahua and Hikvision that the ban would be removed in the reconciliation process. However, reconciliation included the ban and both the House and Senate easily passed the bill with the ban.

Security industry blogger, John Honovich and IPVM released the story on Aug. 2, and included parts of the reconciled bill, which cover some 1,360 pages of government regulation, including a ban of Hikvision and Dahua equipment, or any subsidiary or affiliate, for U.S. government use.

The relevant section is:

(B) For the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical security surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes, video surveillance and telecommunications equipment produced by Hytera Communications Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., or Dahua Technology Co. (or any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities …).

Another possible, and critical expansion of the ban is a new clause calling out "critical infrastructure," and "national security purposes":

It is not clear if the bill bans use of their company equipment in those areas but, if so, it would significantly increase the impact as many non-governmental organizations could fall under those categories; such as utilities and financial institutions.

The bill says this "prohibition" will start one year after it is enacted, which would put that in H2 2019:

(C) Effective Dates – The prohibition under sub-section (a)(1) shall take effect one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and the prohibitions under …

However, in practice, the ban is immediate given the elimination clause.

Compounding the problem for Dahua and Hikvision, the bill includes a directive to "phase-out" and "eliminate" the use of existing equipment.

(B) submits to the head of the executive agency, who shall not later than 30 days thereafter submit to the appropriate congressional committees, a full and complete laydown of the presences of covered telecommunications or video surveillance equipment or services in the entity’s supply chain and a phase-out plan to eliminate such covered telecommunications or video surveillance equipment or services from the entity’s systems.

Overall, Dahua and Hikvision equipment is a distinct minority of government video surveillance. There is; however, a non-trivial amount deployed that could be a boon for system integrators and rival video surveillance manufacturers.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.

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