Ongoing US restrictions for Chinese CCTV companies

There are growing political and regulatory concerns in the UK about Chinese-owned CCTV companies and signs that more action may be taken by the government as we mentioned in our recent blog. However, this follows restrictions that were already placed on them in the US, which also affects their ONVIF membership. Choosing CCTV systems that you know will be ONVIF-compliant into the future will be benefit you and we can support you with this.

The National Defense Authorization Act came into effect in 2019 and HikVision, Dahua Technology and its subsidiary Lorex, were among the Chinese-owned technology companies then named on the US government’s Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Export Administration Regulations Entity List. The US regulations stop the companies exporting, re-exporting products and technology from the US or transferring any technologies within the US to a foreign person.

The international CCTV camera industry body, ONVIF, which aims to standardise IP-based products, has subsequently restricted the membership of seven of its member companies since 2019 because of the export ban imposed on them. The ONVIF restrictions mean that the companies can not access the group’s online member portal, have access on any new ONVIF software or participate in any of its committees.

There has been particular concern about the illicit transfer of intellectual property from the US into China and also the cybersecurity of Chinese companies. Technology transfer could include the copying and sharing of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, engineering designs and specifications or computer-aided design files.

ONVIF membership is committed to an open IP platform

ONVIF was originally founded in 2008 by Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems and Sony Corporation, but now has a worldwide membership, which includes Avigilon, the North American manufacturer which is the well-established CCTV partner of Ecl-ips. ONVIF membership is open to manufacturers, software developers, consultants, system integrators, end users and other interest groups that wish to participate in ONVIF activities.

Avigilon has committed to build its solutions on an open platform, giving users the flexibility to make the most of their existing resources and investments. Avigilon designs many of its products to meet open standards for easy interoperability with third-party software and hardware.

Avigilon hardware such as its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Network Video Recorder (NVR) and the Avigilon Edge Appliance comes installed with its video management software (VMS) Avigilon Control Center (ACC) and they can be used with third-party cameras. In this way the power of the ACC VMS can be utilised and in the case of the AI NVR it will actually add the analytics capability to easily search for people and objects to those cameras.

This means you can make your security systems more integrated so that you can control those systems from a single platform. This includes integrating the ACC software with third-party systems such as access control software, central stations and physical security information management systems.

ONVIF members are therefore committed to standardising their IP-based products so that software and hardware from different manufacturers can be used and it is easier for users to upgrade. However, manufacturers, like Avigilon which is owned by Motorola Solutions, will still protect their intellectual property through the use of patents and ONVIF needs to follow the US regulations to protect its reputation and the intellectual property of its other members.

Focus on Chinese companies due to human rights concerns

These restrictions imposed by the US government and ONVIF continue to be in topical because of the spotlight on HikVision and Dahua Technology in relation to the use of their cameras in surveillance in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

A report by British MPs last year and the judgment of the Uyghur Tribunal published in December found that the Chinese government had committed human rights abuses against the Uyghur and they had been subject to CCTV surveillance. The MPs recommended that the companies “should not be permitted to operate within the UK”.

Meanwhile, the Biometrics and Surveillance Commissioner Professor Fraser Sampson has welcomed proposed government measures that would allow the public sector to more easily exclude suppliers linked with modern slavery and human rights violations when making procurements.

Security Group believes in high standards

As an SSAIB-certified company we ensure we meet the highest standards for the products and service we provide and we are committed to protecting our customers’ information properly and meeting the latest data protection rules. We believe in providing the highest quality security solutions that also meet the data protection requirements for CCTV systems, and take the time to look at the options available which is why we have chosen Avigilon, now part of Motorola Solutions, to be our long-term partner.

If you are based in Bristol, or elsewhere in south-west England or South Wales we would be delighted to support you to ensure you have a robust and fully ONVIF-compliant CCTV system. Please get in touch to find out more.