The Dahua & Hikvision controversy: how it affects your network privacy

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While Dahua and Hikvision products have been banned in the US over ethical and security concerns, many countries still make use of their surveillance technology. In February 2022, research by the Dutch national broadcasting company NOS revealed that these cameras are installed in over 50 municipalities in The Netherlands where the topic is trending. British media have shared similar data, stating that 60% of UK public bodies are using said cameras. More recently, Australia announced that they will remove around 900 Dahua and Hikvision cameras from defense sites, due to security reasons.

The controversy invites us to scrutinize cameras and our use of public networks. Having an app like Fing can go a long way in protecting you wherever you connect to the Internet.

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What is the Dahua & Hikvision controversy?

Ethical and security concerns over the Dahua and Hikvision surveillance products have been raised since as far back as 2015 when their ties to the Chinese government were considered to be ethically dubious. Since then, the subject has resurfaced in international media every so often. In 2017 because of the link with the Xinjiang internment camps that were being built. In 2019 when the U.S. government under President Trump sanctioned Hikvision. In 2020 when the Norway Ethics Council recommended excluding Hikvision from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global. In 2021 when the U.S. banned Hikvision altogether and the EU removed them from their Parliament’s premises. And now, in 2022, with Beijing’s Olympic Games, where the cameras are used to secure the event.

Hikvision and Dahua have repeatedly denied their involvement in any human rights abuses or corporate/government espionage. They regret the sanctions and bans and have stated that these are completely unjustified. Meanwhile, the surveillance cameras by Hikvision and Dahua are in high demand. Hikvision, especially, has grown into the largest camera manufacturer in the world.

The pros and cons of surveillance cameras

Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons, otherwise, video surveillance wouldn’t be used as much. But it remains the subject of much debate, especially with the increasing value of (personal) data. Governments that regulate data protection, for example, the EU with the GDPR, alleviate some of the concerns that people have with surveillance cameras, like the fact that footage needs to be deleted after a certain amount of time and that companies need clear policies regarding the use of video surveillance. But that also has proven difficult to monitor. And it does not solve the other cons. Overall, though, it seems like surveillance cameras are accepted for what they do and don’t do.

The main pros of surveillance cameras are:

  • Improve public safety
  • Make many people feel safer
  • Help in reducing crime
  • Help in catching criminals
  • Provide real-time data on traffic situations

The main cons are:

  • Invade our privacy
  • Can be hacked or abused
  • Don’t really stop crime

Another (dis)advantage of surveillance cameras is that they become smarter as we progress our digital technologies. Through the use of AI, cameras are capable of biometric identification. They can recognize who you are, whether you are sick or not, and they can even read your mood. While this has some clear advantages, it also makes it scarily precise. Some countries and US states have therefore banned this technology from use by law enforcement, while others are considering it. Meanwhile, there are reports that suggest that Hikvision may, in fact, be using AI emotion-detection software in the Xinjian region, although the company denies it.

Scan networks and identify cameras wherever you go with Fing

Just because we need to accept the presence of cameras, it doesn’t mean we need to let our guard down. People have a right to privacy, to know when they are being watched and what happens to that data. If you are set on your privacy and if you want to protect your data, there is no one stopping you from doing some monitoring of your own. In fact, it should become standard practice to have an app that can scan the network wherever you go. With Fing App and Fing Desktop, you fight fire with fire because our app gives you eyes on all connected devices around you.

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Whether you log into your own network or a guest network, Fing can scan the entire network for all the devices connected to it. Our subscriptions Fing Starter and Fing Premium both include the hidden camera detection feature, which will directly tell you whether there’s a spy camera around or not. Our device database is constantly updated – and yes, it includes Dahua and Hikvision cameras too – while our patented technology can deeply scan every network.

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