Hikvision and Dahua Surveillance Cameras: Global Locations Report

We identified 2 million surveillance camera networks outside China that use hardware from controversial Chinese firms Hikvision and Dahua, with more located in the U.S. than anywhere else.
Hikvision camera in China

UPDATED 13 Jan 2021 14:30 GMT to include the latest developments relating to Chinese technology firms’ involvement in racial profiling of Uyghurs.

Key Findings

  • 1.97M Hikvision and Dahua surveillance camera networks detected outside China worldwide
    • Hikvision: 1.70M networks
    • Dahua: 302,000 networks
  • 184 countries outside China where Hikvision or Dahua camera networks are present
  • 124 countries have more than 100 such networks
  • United States – nation with most networks detected (over 350,000 and 17% of total), followed by Vietnam, Brazil, Korea and the UK.
  • Ho Chi Minh City – city with most Hikvision and Dahua networks detected, followed by Hanoi, New York City, London and Seoul.

Introduction

Chinese firms Hikvision and Dahua have enjoyed stratospheric growth to become the world’s biggest video surveillance companies despite repeated allegations of enabling systematic human rights abuses in China.

Hikvision and Dahua are two Chinese companies among many that have been found to create technology that can be used to racially profile Uyghurs.

Both companies have also been accused of posing significant privacy and security risks to citizens around the world due to their links with the Chinese Communist Party.

Despite facing a variety of trade restrictions in the U.S., this investigation shows that efforts to decouple the American and Chinese tech sectors have had limited success. In fact, one in six camera networks identified in this report are in the U.S.

This investigation is the first to comprehensively map Hikvision and Dahua camera networks active outside China.

In doing so, we identified the countries and cities most surveilled by these controversial firms’ technology.

Note that this report identifies networks of cameras, each on a single Internet Protocol (IP) address, rather than individual cameras. As networks tend to comprise multiple devices, the total number of individual Hikvision and Dahua surveillance cameras covered by this report will likely be many times higher than two million.

See our Background Information section for additional details of the companies’ past controversies.

Top Countries

The following table shows the 20 countries outside of China where we detected the most Dahua and Hikvision surveillance camera networks.

The values in each column are derived from the number of unique IP addresses associated with hardware manufactured by each company, as each IP address is able to host a network of one or more surveillance cameras and related equipment.

For the full findings by country see the Hikvision and Dahua Surveillance Camera Networks Data Sheet.

Top Cities

The following table shows the 20 cities globally outside of China where we detected the most Dahua and Hikvision surveillance camera networks.

The values in each column are derived from the number of unique IP addresses associated with hardware manufactured by each company, as each IP address is able to host a network of one or more surveillance cameras and related equipment.

To see data for the top 1,000 cities, refer to the Hikvision and Dahua Surveillance Camera Networks Data Sheet.

Highlights

By Country

  • The U.S. has more than twice as many camera networks as Vietnam, the country with the next most networks. Over 17% of all the Hikvision and Dahua networks we detected outside China were located in the U.S.
  • Exports of this technology are highly concentrated. Almost half of all the networks detected were in just six countries.
  • In Europe, Italy has the next highest number of networks after the UK. It has significantly more (60%) than Spain, the country with next most networks.
  • In South America, Brazil has more than 3 times (229%) as many as networks as Argentina, the country from the region with the next highest total networks.

By City

  • Ho Chi Minh City, along with Hanoi, has almost twice as many Hikvision and Dahua networks as New York City, the city with the next highest number of networks in the world after the two Vietnamese cities.
  • NYC has 75% more camera networks than Los Angeles, the US city with the next highest number of such networks. The next biggest US city network is in Houston, TX.
  • In Europe, London has the most networks using the two companies’ hardware, with 42% more networks than Istanbul and two-thirds more than Athens, the two cities next most surveilled by Hikvision and Dahua devices.
  • Montevideo in Uruguay has the most networks in South America, followed by Brazil’s São Paolo and Uberlândia.
  • Mumbai has only the 15th biggest city network of Hikvision and Dahua cameras despite India having the sixth biggest network globally.

By Brand

  • The UK has the third highest number of Hikvision camera networks in the world.
  • Brazil has by far the most Dahua networks, more than four times the number detected in Vietnam.
  • Spain has the third highest number of Dahua networks – with slightly more than the US – while Poland has the fifth highest number.
  • São Paulo in Brazil and Istanbul, Turkey are the two cities with most Dahua camera networks in the world.
  • Seoul in South Korea has over 17 times the Hikvision camera networks than it does Dahua.

Background Information

Hikvision and Dahua have faced a series of trade restrictions in the U.S. due to their alleged role in the repression of the Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups in Xinjiang, north western China.

In October 2019, both companies were added to the Department of Commerce’s ‘Entity List.’ The Bureau of Industry and Security states that “transactions of any nature with listed entities carry a ‘red flag'” and U.S. companies must now receive a special license to sell to either Hikvision or Dahua.

According to the ruling, the two companies “have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups” in the Xinjiang region.

The decision followed the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act which prevented either company from selling their equipment to U.S. federal agencies.

More recently, Norway’s Council on Ethics recommended excluding Hikvision from the country’s wealth fund investment portfolio because of the company’s “role in the mass surveillance of the population in the Xinjiang region of China.”

According to a report by IPVM, Hikvision “is financing around $145m worth of Xinjiang police video surveillance projects” and both companies have faced accusations that their technology can be used to automatically detect Uyghurs.

Hikvision has stated that it “takes global human rights very seriously”. A spokesman told Reuters that “all our business is required to align with the company’s compliance policy” but declined to say what its compliance policy was beyond that it was in line with local laws.

Dahua have similarly claimed that the company “adheres to the business code of conduct, and follows market rules as well as international rules.”

More recently, Hikvision has come under scrutiny from a UK government committee investigating the use of forced labour in Xinjiang. Hikvision submitted a written statement rejecting any suggestion they might be involved in such activities.

As well as the human rights concerns, both companies have also faced accusations that their technology poses a risk to citizens’ digital security and privacy.

In 2018, a US-China Economic and Security Review Commission report warned:

“Through IoT products and services, Chinese firms may be transferring data from their U.S. consumers to China, where the government retains expansive powers to collect and exploit data with little regard for privacy or ownership concerns.”

Dahua has also been described as “terrible at cybersecurity”, and Hikvision has been subject to similar criticism.

These concerns have been exacerbated by the companies’ links to the Chinese state.

Hikvision, or Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd. as it is formally known, is 42% owned by Chinese state investors, while Dahua Technology Company is 2.4% owned by such investors.

More broadly, the degree of autonomy provided private companies in China has repeatedly been called into question.

Despite accusations of enabling human rights abuses and their poor cybersecurity track records, Hikvision and Dahua have been free to rapidly expand around the world.

In the process, they may have compromised the digital security and privacy of millions of citizens worldwide.

Methodology

Dahua and Hikvision surveillance camera networks were identified via Shodan scans and compiled from significant numbers of relevant searches over the course of Oct-Nov 2020, generating over 3 million data points. Camera networks were inferred from unique IP addresses. Additional geolocation data was sourced via MaxMind and combined with the dataset using in-house tools, following extensive data cleansing.

Findings for all countries and the top 1,000 cities are available via this Google Sheet.


About Us

Top10VPN.com is a leading VPN review website. We test and recommend VPN services to help protect consumers’ privacy and security online. We also aim to educate the general public about digital privacy and cybersecurity risks through our free online resources and research.

For more of our original cybersecurity research, take a look at our UK Digital Forensics Report, COVID-19 Digital Rights Tracker, or our Free VPN Chinese Ownership Investigation.

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