IMMEDIATELY PRIOR to the Christmas recess in Parliament, Oliver Dowden (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) announced that surveillance equipment “produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China” must no longer be deployed at sensitive Government sites. Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has subsequently urged the Government to expand this planned safeguarding measure across the board.

Dowden’s statement – also reiterated in the House of Lords by Conservative Life Peer Baroness Lucy Jeanne Neville-Rolfe – begins: “The Government keeps the security of its personnel, information, assets and estate under constant review. In this context, the Government Security Group has undertaken a review of the current and future possible security risks associated with the installation of visual surveillance systems on the Government estate. The review has concluded that, in light of the threat posed to the UK and the increasing capability and connectivity of these systems, additional controls are required.”

The statement continues: “Government Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment at sensitive sites where it’s produced by companies subject to the National Intelligence Law of the People’s Republic of China. Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materialising.”

Dowden adds: “Additionally, Government Departments have been advised that no such equipment should be connected to departmental core networks and that they should consider whether they should remove and replace such equipment where it is deployed on sensitive sites rather than awaiting any scheduled upgrades. Departments have also been advised to consider whether there are sites outside the definition of sensitive sites to which they would wish to extend the same risk mitigation.”

In conclusion, the statement reads: “Government will continue to keep this risk under review and will take further steps if and when they become necessary.”

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