Hikvision Uyghur ethnic minority analytics

Occurred: December 2022-

The Chinese government has been discovered using a controversial system developed by Hikvision to identify Uyghur people, raising concerns about the nature of ethnic surveillance in China.

An 85-page procurement document obtained and verified by video research company IPVM showed that in December 2022 Chinese authorities awarded a USD 6 million contract to state-controlled video surveillance company Hikvision to identify Uyghurs. Hikvision's system is powered by US technology company NVIDIA.

In April 2023, Axios reported that an internal review of Hikvision's contracts with authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang by US lawyer Richard-Pierre Prosper had discovered five projects, including one that identified Uyghurs as the focus of surveillance called for the surveillance of their 'religious facilities.' 

Hikvision had first denied and subsequently admitted the existence of its minority recognition software, claiming it had been removed. In October 2023, IPVM discovered that Hikvision's latest technologies includes ethnic minority detection technology, despite its claims to have stopped supporting it.

The Chinese government has been orchestrating the mass detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities since 2014, in an apparent attempt to eradicate their people and culture.

Operator: Government of China
Developer: China Electronics Technology Group/Hikvision; NVIDIA

Country: China

Sector: Govt - police; Govt - security

Purpose: Population surveillance/security

Technology: Facial analysis
Issue: Surveillance; Bias/discrimination - ethnicity, race; Privacy; Accuracy/reliability
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Issue
Published: July 2023
Last updated: November 2023