THIS WEEK IN SURVEILLANCE

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FOLLOW-UP: LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND ENTITIES THAT BOUGHT SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT FROM BANNED CHINESE FIRMS.  There is detailed info available about localities that bought equipment from two Chinese firms blacklisted by the Federal government.

The two Chinese firms in question, Hikvision and Dahua, have been directly linked to serious human rights abuses of Uighurs and other dissident populations and persons in China. 

Our recent article “LOCAL GOVERNMENTS SURVEILLING U.S. CITIZENS WITH BLACKLISTED CHINESE TECH,”  summarized a collaboration between Techcrunch and Govspend that identified over 300 local governments and entities in the U.S. who bought equipment. Numerous American companies acted as resellers.

IPVM, a leading physical security industry website, has links to spreadsheets with relevant info for anyone who wants to see if their local governments, school systems made purchases.

As previously reported, the activity skirted the federal blacklist, since entities were only barred from using federal funds in making purchases. As an example of how widespread the purchases were, following is a list of entities in NY which bought equipment:

Schenectady County Eastern Suffolk BOCES

Putnam County Saratoga County

Village of Menands Dutchess BOCES

Dansville School District Orange County

Village of Depew Huntington Public Schools

Onondaga County Town of Peru

Town of Greenburgh City of Rochester

Rensselaer County Niagara County

Monroe 1 BOCES Valley Central School District

Franklin County Town of Blooming Grove

LaGuardia Community College

Plattsburgh City School District

Lyndonville Central School District

Ticonderoga Central School District

Frankfort - Schuyler Central School District

Scarsdale Public Schools

Putnam Valley Central School District

The New York Transit Authority

Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School District

South Colonie Central School District

Half Hollow Hills Central School District

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District, New York

The Poughkeepsie Public Library System

Rockville Centre Union Free School District

Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools

A number of major companies acted as resellers, including Amazon, CDWG, B&H Foto and Electronics Corp, Newegg Business, Inc. and eDigitalDeals, Inc.. Many of these same companies advertise heavily to promote themselves as “woke” supporters of BLM, “equity” and transgender related issues.

In addition, many specialized and regional company resellers sold equipment, including Surveillance Pro, Surveillance Video, Sonitrol Services Of Ny, Security Solutions, Applied Telecommunications, Sky Cop, Spying Eye Surveillance, Electrical Design Group, Essentia Systems Inc, Altex Electronics, Atech Security, Alarmco Security Systems, ADI Global, App Techs Corporation, Advance Secure Tech, Halifax Security D/b/a North American Video, Jiffy Photo Center, Rescue Safety Products, New Era Information Tech, SHI International Corp, Crescent Electric Supply Company, M C Dean, Inc, Securecom, and others.

A number of human rights activists have expressed dismay over the activity. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, was one of those who recently voiced concerns:

“No company from the People’s Republic of China is truly ‘independent.’ So, when these American entities buy this equipment, they should know that not only are they supporting companies facilitating repression in China, but that the data gathered via this surveillance gear can be shared with the Chinese Communist Party. For some time, I have been disturbed that American entities, including companies and universities have facilitated CCP’s surveillance and censorship activities in Xinjiang and beyond.”

CHINA USING TIKTOK TO GATHER INTEL ON AMERICANS. Politicians. Scientists. Human rights advocates. Health professionals. They, or possibly their children, are subject right now to having their biometric data, including fingerprints and facial recognition data, gathered up for Chinese intelligence.

All while they’re dancing and twerking in TikTok videos.

The Chinese company known for a wildly popular media app used to dance and music videos, and other social content, quietly updated their policies regarding collecting user biometric data. 

The move was first reported by Techcrunch. Among other things, the new policy states:

“We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection.”

The biometric collection could potentially affect 66 million American users of the media app. And right now, 47 out of 50 states have virtually no restrictions on the collection of such data.

Though the Biden administration has recently restricted U.S. investments in 59 Chinese companies linked to government military and surveillance, TikTok wasn’t on the list.

Former President Donald Trump was ridiculed by many for seeking to ban TikTok. At the time, Trump pointed to info that the company had ties to the Chinese government and could well be leveraged as an intelligence asset.


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