UK government to set deadline for removal of Chinese surveillance cams
And compile a list of vendors considered threats to national security
The UK government will set a deadline for removing made-in-China surveillance cameras from "sensitive sites."
News of the not-very-imminent deadline came with on Tuesday with the publication of proposed amendments [PDF] to the Procurement Bill – legislation that will reform many aspects of the UK government's practices for buying stuff. Which it does to the tune of around £300 billion ($373 billion) each year.
The proposed amendments include a clause requiring "Removal from the procurement supply chain of physical surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China." Within six months of the bill being passed – which is on the cards to happen next week – the UK Secretary of State is required to inform Parliament of a timeline for removal of the offending kit.
None of which means UK government maintenance workers need to start figuring out if Chinese cameras were affixed with slotted or Philips head screws – not exactly, not yet – but does mean the November 2022 plan to bin Chinese cameras is being acted upon.
The proposed amendments to the bill include establishing a "National Security Unit for Procurement." Based out of the Cabinet Office, said unit "will investigate suppliers who may pose a risk to national security, and assess whether companies should be barred from public procurements."
The Cabinet Office announcement states "The specialist team will work across government, including liaising closely with our intelligence agencies."
The unit will proactively survey the supplier landscape "and will recommend to Ministers which suppliers should be investigated for debarment." If a minister recommends debarment, the relevant suppliers will be placed on a naughty list that indicates they are not to be considered for some government contracts.
That process is outlined in a second measure added to the bill, that would create "New powers to ban suppliers from specific sectors, such as areas related to defence and national security, while allowing them to continue to win procurements in non-sensitive areas."
- US bans Chinese telecoms imports – won't even consider authorizing them
- UK bans Chinese CCTV cameras on 'sensitive' government sites
- USA adds two more Chinese carriers to 'probably a national security threat' list
- Calls for bans on Chinese CCTV makers Hikvision, Dahua expand
Other elements of the bill likely to keep government techies (and Register hacks) busy include publication of government procurement data and "a new exclusions framework that will make it easier to exclude suppliers who have underperformed on other contracts."
Government agencies will also be required to pay small business contractors within 30 days.
The surveillance tech removal program is likely to result in removal of kit from Chinese state-owned CCTV manufacturers like Hikvision and Dahua. The USA and Australia have already ordered made-in-China cams removed.
Hikvision has previously told The Register "it is categorically false to represent Hikvision as a threat to national security." ®
Update at 2300 UTC, June 9
Hikvision has contacted The Reg to inform us it "has a longstanding record of protecting Britons and their property. It has undertaken painstaking efforts to work closely with the UK government to ensure scrupulous compliance with the strictest security rules and regulations required to operate in the UK and it is categorically false to represent Hikvision as a national security threat.
"No respected technical institution or assessment has come to this conclusion.
"As a manufacturer, Hikvision has no visibility into end-users' video data and cannot access end users' video data. In the UK, Hikvision does not store end-users' video data, does not offer cloud storage, and cannot transmit data from end-users to third parties. We remain committed to the UK market and to providing our customers with the equipment they need to protect their property.”