Dahua and Hikvision Co-Author Racial And Ethnic PRC Police StandardsBy IPVM Team, Published Mar 30, 2021, 07:24am EDT
Hikvision and Dahua helped write Chinese police video surveillance standards which include tracking people's skin color - such as "black", "yellow" and "brown" - and ethnicity, IPVM has verified.
Watch this short video for an overview:
These standards allow police to search video surveillance footage and mugshot/suspect databases via various 'personal attributes', including skin color. The standards are widely mandated by recent Chinese police security camera projects.
The standards also include "ethnicity" tracking, without naming any specific ethnicity. However, evidence found by IPVM indicates "ethnicity" tracking targets Uyghurs and Tibetans specifically.
In this report, IPVM investigates these standards and what they show about PRC police practices.
Reuters validated IPVM's findings, publishing its own report on this:
Police Standards Explainer
The Chinese government issues detailed standards across all sectors of government, including for the police's vast security camera networks. Police standards are issued by the Ministry of Public Security but each standard is written by a different mix of government research institutes, police departments, and surveillance companies. While the standards are officially "recommended", as noted by a supplier of the standards, "'Recommended' is not voluntary, it should be treated as 'mandatory'".
Race Tracking Revealed
GA/T1400.3—2017 is a national standard for "public security video image information application systems" which includes "skin color" and ethnicity detection as "personal attributes" that police can search databases for ("Ethic" is a misspelling for Ethnic):
This 2017 standard has been mandated in many PRC police video surveillance RFPs:
- Smart Community of Dongcheng District, Beijing (November 2020)
- Guizhou Big Data Standardization System Construction Plan (July 2020)
- Sharp Eyes Project of Yulin county, Shaanxi (July 2019)
- Hubei Police Video Image Sharing project (July 2019)
- Beijing Municipal Police video image project (January 2019)
- Xuhui Branch of Shanghai Police Smart Image Recognition project (January 2019)
Additionally, VMS provider and co-drafter of the standard NetPosa boasted in August 2019 that its platform "passed" the GA/T 1400.3 standard.
Companies which wrote the standard include Uniview, Hikvision, Dahua, Netposa:
Drafting organizations of this section: Science and Technology Information Technology Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, Zhejiang Public Security Institute of Science and Technology, Zhejiang Uniview Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Liyuan Communication Technology Co., Ltd., the First Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, and National Security Alarm System Product Quality Supervision Inspection Center (Beijing), Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Jieshang Vision Technology Co., Ltd., NetPosa Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
GA/T 1756-2020 is a national standard for "person image/face recognition applications in video surveillance for public security." The standard includes "skin color analysis" as part of "face attributes":
The specific skin colors are "white, black, yellow, brown, other":
This standard was passed in November 2020 and will come into effect on May 1, 2021 so it has not yet been cited by police projects. Companies which wrote this standard include prominent AI startup Yitu and Kedacom:
This standard was drafted by the Science and Technology Information Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, the National Engineering Laboratory for Intelligent Analysis and Sharing of Video and Image Information, Beijing Zhongdun Security Technology Development Company, the First Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, Shanxi Provincial Public Security Department, Tsinghua University , National Security and Alarm System Product Quality Supervision and Inspection Center (Beijing), Science and Technology Information Division of Yunnan Public Security Department, Lianyungang Public Security Bureau, Jiangsu Province, Suzhou Keda Technology Co., Ltd. [Kedacom], Beijing Shenxing Technology Co., Ltd., Chongqing Zhongkeyun From Technology Co., Ltd. Shanghai Yitu Network Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
DB41/T 1514—2017 mandates that residential communities have security cameras "clearly recording facial features of people entering and exiting" buildings:
6.4.1 [cameras are installed at] entrances and exits of residential buildings, as well as the entrances and exits of shops and clubs in the community [...] should clearly record the facial features of the people entering and exiting and stored in the system in image format
Hikvision and Dahua are listed as co-drafters of this standard:
Drafting organizations of this standard: Zhengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, China Academy of Space Technology, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Henan Huaan Baoquan Intelligent Development Co., Ltd., China Unicom System Integration Co., Ltd. Henan Branch The company, Suzhou Keda Technology Co., Ltd. [Kedacom], Zhengzhou Lanshi Technology Co., Ltd. Zhengzhou BlueEye Tech Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
DB4403/T 43—2020 is a local standard for Shenzhen police for security camera networks in 'Smart Parks' (industrial areas) and includes skin color and ethnicity tracking as part of "face information data for video surveillance":
Hikvision, Uniview, and ZKTeco are some of the firms listed as drafters of this standard:
Drafting organizations of this standard: Police Security Department of Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau, Anda Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Uniview Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Bosi High-Tech Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Jieshun Technology Industrial Co., Ltd., Guangdong Aike Zhibo Technology Co., Ltd., ZKTeco Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Saifim Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Zhongyan Anchuang Technology Development Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Ai Li'an Security Equipment Co., Ltd. Shenzhen Alean Security Equipment Co., Ltd [emphasis added]
DB65/T 4176.2-2018 is a provincial standard for Xinjiang police for "technical database requirements" for "video and image" systems. The standard does not include skin tone but does include "EthicReliability", a statistical confidence score estimating whether someone belong to an (unnamed) ethnic group on a 0-100 scale. The higher the number, the more likely that person belongs to this ethnic group, the standard explains:
The standard was written by two government research institutes and Xinjiang Sailing Information Technology, a big data company.
Chinese Face Rec Firm Says 'Ethnicity' Means Uyghurs, Tibetans
The police standards above only mention "ethnicity" in the context of China's 56 official ethnic groups. Uyghurs are not explicitly mentioned by these standards, despite the fact that Chinese police often integrate Uyghur-detecting AI software in their security camera networks.
However, a Chinese facial recognition company, Bresee, which is owned by Uniview's parent company TransInfo, uploaded an explainer to its website that "EthicCode" is meant for tracking Uyghurs and Tibetans ('Zang' people in Chinese) specifically:
This indicates that "EthicCode", while officially meant to identify any ethnic group, may in practice target Uyghurs along with another repressed minority (Tibetans). As IPVM previously reported, the Ministry of Public Security issued a draft facial recognition standard in December 2017 which explicitly included Uyghur recognition; IPVM could not locate a final version of this standard.
Alibaba Cloud SDK Includes Skin Color, Ethnicity
On Github, Alibaba Cloud's official SDK team uploaded code that includes Skin Color and Ethnic Code:
The Github page includes no details about why this was uploaded. Alibaba didn't respond to IPVM's comment request.
Hikvision, Dahua Response
Hikvision declined to comment to IPVM. Dahua, Uniview, ZKTeco, Bresee, Kedacom, Yitu, NetPosa, and Alibaba did not respond to our requests for comment. If any do, IPVM will update this article.
Dahua told Reuters that the race/ethnicity tracking was "false" and that "Dahua was not involved in creating the database section of the document that mentions ethnic groups". Meanwhile, Hikvision told Reuters that it is "committed to upholding the highest standards and respect for human rights" and "As a manufacturer that does not oversee the operation of our products, we do ensure our cameras are designed to protect communities and property".
ACLU: "Enormous Uproar" Had US Government Done Similar
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, told IPVM that video surveillance standards with skin color and ethnicity tracking would trigger 'enormous uproar' had it been the US government behind them, citing China's standards as a cautionary tale for the West:
If the government here in the United States was discovered mandating the tracking of skin color and ethnicity, there would be an enormous uproar. Yet it does fit with surveillance patterns we’ve seen before here, such as in the banking and travel sectors, where the government requires companies to collect information about customers on its behalf. As security cameras continue to proliferate and video analytics gets better, it’s not a huge leap to imagine authorities pressuring private camera operators to collect and store identifying details in the same way, just in case it’s needed. We should never let that happen.
China Companies Complicit In Racist Practices
IPVM previously reported that Dahua Offers "Race Recognition", but the above shows that this is far from unique; clearly, many Chinese video surveillance companies are directly involved in helping PRC police standardize racist practices.
China is the only country to have explicitly codified race-tracking in their police video surveillance standards, according to IPVM reviews of publicly-available standards. While such analytics would spark an outcry elsewhere, it is unfortunately not surprising that PRC police deploy them, given their ubiquitous Uyghur tracking.
4 reports cite this report:
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