New submitter Billi-13 shares a report: Amazon’s business relationships with two Chinese surveillance giants, Hikvision and Dahua, may violate a law prohibiting federal contractors from doing business with certain Chinese firms, a joint investigation by National Review and IPVM, a surveillance and security research group, reveals. While lawmakers are calling out these practices, Amazon has defended them and maintains that it is in full compliance with the law. Specifically, the Seattle-based tech giant might be running afoul of a provision in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act barring contracts with firms that use certain Chinese surveillance hardware or software. One potentially significant issue is that Amazon Web Services simultaneously provides cloud Internet services to the U.S. National Security Agency and Hikvision, which the U.S. government designated as a Chinese military-industrial complex company last year.
“Facing a clear threat to federal networks, Congress drew a line in the sand for its contractors: if you do business with Hikvision or Dahua, you can’t do business with the federal government,” said Conor Healy, IPVM’s director of government research. “Amazon seems determined to do the opposite. It is actively facilitating and incubating the very threat Congress sought to mitigate.” Even absent the NDAA ban, enforcement of which is spotty, the record of the two Chinese surveillance firms — neither of which responded to NR’s requests for comment — should be cause for concern. In 2019, Hikvision and Dahua were both blacklisted by the Commerce Department for their extensive work with the authorities in Xinjiang, as the Chinese Communist Party built out a sophisticated police state to systematically target ethnic minorities in the region. Dahua sells cameras that can identify Uyghur faces, with an alarm that goes off when they are in view. The company characterizes this as a smart-policing feature to detect “real-time Uyghur warnings” and “hidden terrorist inclinations.” Hikvision, in addition to providing cameras used in Xinjiang prison camps, sells “tiger chair” torture and interrogation systems, among other things. Hikvision also has a well-documented relationship with the Chinese military, providing the People’s Liberation Army air force with drone jammers, and pitching its technology as key to improving missile and tank systems.