Hikvision’s stock dropped 10% after the Financial Times reported that the Biden administration is seeking to slap new penalties on the surveillance camera manufacturer, accusing it of facilitating human rights violations. According to the Financial Times, the penalties would have “far-reaching effects” since “businesses and governments dealing with Hikvision… risk breaking US sanctions.” This would be the first time the White House has placed such penalties on such a huge corporation, according to the Financial Times. The firm is the world’s largest surveillance equipment maker.
Hikvision and another surveillance technology business, Dahua, were put on a US government entity list in 2019 for their participation in aiding human rights violations among Muslim minority groups in China, notably the Uyghurs. U.S. people are also prohibited from investing in Hikvision under another punishment issued by the Biden administration in June.
Many communities in the United States, however, continue to deploy Hikvision cameras. At least a hundred U.S. counties, municipalities, and cities have purchased surveillance equipment from Hikvision and Dahua, according to contract data obtained by TechCrunch in May. They can do so because federal laws do not apply to state and local governments.
“The prospective action by the US Government, as stated, has to be validated,” a Hikvision spokeswoman said in an email to TechCrunch. Any such consequence, we believe, should be based on reliable evidence and follow due procedure. We expect to be treated properly and without prejudice.” Hikvision is one of a series of Chinese IT businesses that the US government has singled out for individual penalties rather than a concerted strategy to slow their growth.
Under the Trump administration, one famous example was TikTok. The Securities and Exchange Commission has placed Weibo on a delisting blacklist during the Biden administration. DJI was placed on an investment blacklist in December 2021, along with seven other businesses, for its participation in the monitoring of Uyghur Muslims. The drone manufacturer was already on the Department of Commerce’s Entity list, which means that unless it has a license, American firms can’t sell it parts.