Israel Police deploying US blacklisted Chinese traffic cameras

Israel Police deploying Chinese cameras credit: Eyal Izhar, Shutterstock, Tali Bogdanovsky
Israel Police deploying Chinese cameras credit: Eyal Izhar, Shutterstock, Tali Bogdanovsky

License plate recognition cameras manufactured by Dahua and Hikvision have been removed from the national infrastructures of several Western countries in recent years.

Israel Police is deploying Chinese-made license plate recognition (LPR) cameras as part of its "Hawk-Eye" traffic enforcement project, which do not comply with required standards in Western countries like the US and Netherlands. "Globes" has learned that most of the cameras that Israel Police is using to monitor the country as part of the "Hawk-Eye" project are made in China, and in particular manufactured by Dahua. The police are also making use of cameras from Chinese company HikVision. These two companies have been removed from the national infrastructures of several Western countries in recent years.

Controlling the world market

Dahua and Hikvision were blacklisted in 2021 by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) together with Huawei, China Telecom and ZTE, as companies endangering US national security. US Congress also enacted special legislation prohibiting import and sale of the Chinese companies' products, including the Dahua and Hikvision surveillance cameras, by government companies or any organization that relies on a federal budget.

Amsterdam Municipality also announced that within five years it will replace nearly 1,300 city cameras made in China that were installed on its streets, due to fear of espionage as well as suspicion of complicity in the violation of human rights in the communist country. In addition, as far as is known, due to US suspicions about Chinese cameras, Israeli defense companies like Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are also required not to use these cameras at all.

Dahua and Hikvision were founded in 2001 in Hangzhou, 200 kilometers south of Shanghai. The two companies control the global security cameras market - Hikvision has a 40% share and Dahua 25%. Western companies have most of the remaining 35% market share. The Chinese government has a 39% stake in Hikvision and a 12% stake in Dahua.

Both companies have had sanctions and boycotts imposed by a number of Western countries. Against Dahua there are sanctions in the US, Canada, Ukraine, Australia and UK. Against Hikvision there are sanctions and other actions in the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Ukraine, South Korea, and India.

Despite concerns about espionage, Israel Police chose to cover the country's roads with Chinese-made cameras. It is a relatively cheap commodity, with high technological reliability, and a "proof of feasibility" over many years in China. According to the regulations, the cameras are supposed to track license plates only, but Adv. Gil Gan-Mor, director of the Civil Rights Unit of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) says that the system also stores a close-up image of the vehicle in which the driver and passenger can also be seen. He adds that police are able to cross-check data with other databases such as the vehicle license database, thus creating a connection between the vehicle and its owner.

The cameras deployed in Israel do not yet have facial recognition capability, but according to Gan-Mor, the cabinet voted even before the outbreak of the war that it would also support biometric identification, although this legislation has not yet been enacted. "A lot of information can be extracted just from a photo of a vehicle along a road," says Gan-Mor. "You can understand whether the journey is abnormal and what its destination is. If it is a destination that will embarrass the driver, it could be used against them. Cameras located near sensitive sites add a security aspect to the problematic nature of the camera system."

ACRI contacted the Attorney General before petitioning the Supreme Court to annul legislation, allowing police to keep all filmed content for two years - even of innocent citizens. In ACRI's opinion this is equivalent to mobile tracking, and can be done without a judicial order. ACRI also claims that the use of the system is for very broad purposes, and is not limited to investigating serious crimes and locating criminals.

Israel Police said, "The police are acting through all the required means to ensure data security and prevent leakage of information."

HVI, the importer of Hikvision cameras to Israel, said in response to the report:  "It seems that those interviewed in the article are biased and have interests not related to the matter.

"There is no targeted security problem with Hikvision cameras and it has not been proven that the level of cybersecurity with other cameras is higher.

"Hikvision cameras are popular worldwide, including in Western countries and in Israel due to their very high technological capabilities and their safety and reliability and all at a fair price.

"Hikvision cameras meet the recommendations and regulations of Israel's National Cyber Directorate, which is the government body responsible for data security and protecting the national civilian cyber space of the State of Israel. The National Cyber Directorate has published instructions to reduce data security risks and in cameras and Hikvision's cameras comply with them all.

"Hikvision cameras also meet the most stringent international standards including complying with the US Federal data security risks FIBS 140 standard and laboratory tests have determined that Hikvision cameras are of a very high security level.

"Accordingly, public and large private bodies in Israel benefit from secure and proper use of Hikvision cameras after having conducted their checks on the product and decided that it is secure to use in terms of cybersecurity. A few countries around the world, which do not encourage use of Hikvision cameras do so out of political motivation or as a result of the trade war with China and with no connection to the level of the product's security."

No response was forthcoming from Dahua.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on June 27, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Israel Police deploying Chinese cameras credit: Eyal Izhar, Shutterstock, Tali Bogdanovsky
Israel Police deploying Chinese cameras credit: Eyal Izhar, Shutterstock, Tali Bogdanovsky
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