Surveillance Giant Hikvision Assists Police in Tracking Falun Gong

Chinese video surveillance company Hikvision created “alarms” on surveillance software that can track Falun Gong practitioners and notify police. The surveillance research firm IPVM, Internet Protocol Video Market, discovered a series of alarms listed in a technical document on Hikvision’s website for its “smart policing” software, Infovision IoT. The list included alarms such as “Falun Gong,” “religion,” and several alarms related to protesting such as “gathering crowds to storm state organs,” “gathering crowds to disrupt traffic,” and “unlawful assemblies, processions, demonstrations.”

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline consisting of moral teachings and meditative exercises. In July 1999 the former Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin, initiated a brutal campaign to eradicate the practice that continues today.

For years, technology has been a growing amenity to police and the extralegal 610 Office in monitoring and detaining Falun Gong practitioners. The alarms listed in the document for Hikvision’s surveillance software indicate an expansion of facial recognition cameras and other technologies used to track Falun Gong and others.

The document does not describe how the alarms work, but mentions “alarm methods” that include “discovery on duty,” “equipment alarm,” and a call to the police.

The document also indicated a capability to track individuals’ personal attributes in a “personnel dictionary.” The attributes listed include religion, ethnicity, and political status. It also contains physical traits such as whether someone has short or long hair, whether they wear glasses, what color their coat is, their age range, and whether they smile.

The US government placed Hikvison on a commerce department blacklist in 2019 for providing surveillance equipment used to commit human rights violations in China, including mass incarceration of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

US Senator Marco Rubio has called for sanctions on the company and others involved in repression.

“Hikvision’s technology plays a central role enabling the Chinese Communist Party’s disgusting human rights abuses and genocide, including against groups such as the Falun Gong and the Uyghurs,” Rubio said in a statement to The Guardian.

IPVM and The Guardian contacted Hikvision and asked them to comment on the alarms. Hikvision did not respond to their requests but removed the Falun Gong and religion alarms from its website after the requests were made.