In Pictures / Cambridge’s 73 Hikvision and Dahua surveillance cameras
by Jay Richardson
29th May 2023
the sonification can reveal that local authorities in Cambridge operate at least 73 surveillance cameras manufactured by Hikvision and Dahua, two companies heavily implicated in the repression of Uyghur Muslim people in western China, which the UK and US have described as genocide. The figure is much higher than previously reported in an article on 29 April.
Peter Frankental, Economic Affairs Programme Director at Amnesty International UK, said: “These cameras raise deep concerns over Cambridgeshire County Council’s apparent failure to consider serious human rights issues in their supply chain.
“The Chinese authorities in the province of Xinjiang have been using Hikvision cameras as part of their vast apparatus of state surveillance and repression, a crime against humanity which has seen hundreds of thousands of people subjected to mass internment and torture.
“Not only are people in Cambridge being monitored by the same cameras used in China’s systematic repression in Xinjiang, but their taxes are benefiting the company complicit in these crimes.
“The council must act with proper transparency over these revelations, including by providing reassurances that it does not enter into commercial contracts that risk involvement in human rights violations, while guaranteeing that any biometric data collected will not be used in ways that target people on the basis of their race or other characteristics protected under the Equality Act.”
the sonification reported finding 14 cameras in Cambridge on 29th April 2023, and updated the figure to 34 on 2nd May. While initial reports located cameras in central urban areas covering busy streets, the newly reported locations include an industrial estate, children’s play area, youth and community centre, council housing, and residential locations North and East of the city centre.
The cameras’ density in the city centre is especially high. Someone walking from Magdalene Bridge to the Catholic church on Hills Road, an 18-minute route covering just under a mile, would pass 16 Council-operated Hikvision devices. They would never be more than 200 yards from a camera and would be visible along almost the entire route.
In July 2021, the UK’s Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee recommended banning Hikvision and Dahua cameras “to ensure that UK companies do not provide either blueprints or financing for further technology-enabled human rights abuses.” The campaign group Big Brother Watch has also called for a ban.
Each image shows a different camera, all of them built by Hikvision or Dahua and branded with their logos, and all funded by Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, or the shared service between all three. Two photographs from Hanover Court have been withheld to protect residents’ privacy.
the sonification / 29 April 2023 / Jay Richardson / Cambridge’s “public space surveillance cameras” from company implicated in Uyghur genocide
Guardian / Vikram Dodd / 3 May 2023 / Police accused over use of facial recognition at King Charles’s coronation
Guardian / Patrick Wintour / 22 April 2021 / UK MPs declare China is committing genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang
BBC / 20 January 2021 / US: China ‘committed genocide against Uighurs’
SCMP / Iris Deng / 7 February 2019 / Here’s what you need to know about Hikvision, the camera maker behind China’s mass surveillance system