More than 100 American cities, towns and counties have bought surveillance systems made in China that the U.S. government has restricted for use by its own agencies, according to a new study.
Critics say China’s ruling Communist Party has used the system to crush dissent at home and repress minorities.
Thermal-imaging and video technology from companies Dahua and Hikvision cost municipalities many thousands of dollars, according to the new report from IPVM, video surveillance researchers, and TechCrunch, a tech-focused publication.
China has been accused of relying on Hikvision and Dahua to surveil the Uyghur Muslim minority population in China. Dahua denies that its technology targets ethnic groups and also has rejected allegations of impropriety it says were implied in the 2019 defense authorization law.
The fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited the use of Hikvision and Dahua by federal agencies for public safety, security and surveillance purposes. The study found that local governments did not stop purchasing the technology even after it was effectively banned at the federal level.
“The biggest spender, according to data and as previously reported by IPVM, showed that the Board of Education in Fayette County, Georgia, spent $490,000 in August 2020 on dozens of Hikvision thermal cameras, used for temperature checks at public schools,” wrote TechCrunch’s Zack Whittaker.
Hikvision created a map of where the technology was bought in the U.S. since 2015.
The company reported that Dahua and Hikvision technology sales to U.S. government entities rose 80% between 2019 and 2020 because of its fever-camera sales.