Matt Hancock says he broke Covid guidelines after he 'fell in love'
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The advice against purchasing surveillance equipment from such Chinese firms as Hikvision came from Surveillance Camera Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson. In a letter to the Cabinet Office, he wrote: “Early in my appointment last year, I became concerned about the clear ethical and human rights issues involved in public procurement of surveillance technology from companies associated with atrocities in China. “I have also been increasingly concerned at the security risks presented by some state-controlled surveillance systems covering our public spaces.”
Prof Sampson said: “Public space surveillance is increasingly intrusive and modern surveillance cameras are built with the maximum functionality inside at the point of manufacture.
“This means they come with capabilities that can be switched on remotely in the future as and when they are needed — for example, the ability to pick up sound or read vehicle number plates.
“The more that surveillance cameras can do, the more important it will be to reassure people about what those systems are not doing, whether that is in our streets, our sports grounds or our schools.
“This is increasingly difficult to detect technically and requires transparency and due diligence by all concerned in public space surveillance activity.”
According to UK civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, two-thirds of public bodies that responded to their information requests employ CCTV systems from China.
This included 73 percent of local authorities, 63 percent of schools, over half of NHS trusts and 31 percent of police forces in the UK.
According to Big Brother Watch, many cameras also contain other capabilities beyond visual surveillance,
These includefacial recognition and even behavioural analysis technology.
The majority of these surveillance systems are manufactured by Hikvision — the world’s largest manufacturer of CCTV tech.
This firm is regarded by the US Federal Communications Commission as posing a threat to US national security.
Here in the UK, Big Brother Watch has called for CCTV systems from the company to be banned, a move that would require tens of thousands of cameras to be replaced.
While Prof Sampson did not go as far as to suggest existing systems be replaced, he said that he has met with ministers, local authorities and police chiefs to highlight his concerns.
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It was a Hikvision security camera that mediated the exposing of former health secretary Matt Hancock’s affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo in June last year.
Video of their now-famous kiss in the former’s office is thought to have been taken by an unknown party recording the output of a security display, however, rather than something remotely captured directly from the CCTV system.
Following the exposure of the pair’s assignation, during which they embraced in the face of then-present social distancing rules, Mr Hancock tendered his resignation.
The CCTV camera that sat in Mr Hancock’s office — now the office of his successor, Mr Javid — has since been removed.
According to the Telegraph, a source close to the health secretary said that “no security concerns” have been found with the device.
Express.co.uk has contacted Hikvision for comment.
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