Chinese security cameras in the Oireachtas pose a “grave security risk”, an Assistant Professor of Digital Policy has claimed.
Hikvision is the world’s leading manufacturer of video surveillance technology but its links to the Chinese Communist Party means it has come under sustained scrutiny in recent days.
In 2022, the company was banned in America and last week the Australian Government ordered all Hikvision be removed from sites owned by its Department of Defence.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has urged the Oireachtas to replace the camera and Elizabeth Farries, Director of UCD’s Centre for Digital Policy, said it is a suggestion worth considering.
“We know that there are significant human rights abuses attached to this company,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We know that it poses a significant national security risk, so I think it’s important that Ireland makes a decision not to use this technology in public spaces - at the Oireachtas or elsewhere in Ireland.”
Professor Farries said there is now a “real opportunity” for the Government to discontinue their use in all public spaces and said it is strongly in the public interest.
“We’ve got the research now that the conversations in the Oireachtas are often necessarily private,” she said.
“However… the devices have been revealed to be reporting back to locations in China and it’s interesting because there’s been a huge panic about the suspected surveillance balloons in the US and Canada.
“And yet here we are in Ireland purchasing and using technology that has been demonstrated to send data packets out of countries using Hikvision in quantities of 11,000 packets per hour.”
As an alternative, Professor Farries suggested that the Oireachtas consult the Data Protection Commissioner before installing new cameras.
“You run a data protection impact assessment, you make sure the technologies you adopt to keep people safe are in fact accomplishing that,” she said.
“You vet the companies that you take onboard for their records of compliance with ethical standards, you ensure that they’re not responsible for human rights atrocities.”
Main image: A split image of a security camera and Leinster House.