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en/usa-government-blacklists-more-chinese-tech-companies-due-to-concerns-on-treatment-of-muslim-minorities#c198468

USA: Tech giants distribute products and apps from blacklisted Chinese companies, according to media report

Author: Rosalind Adams and Ryan Mac, Buzzfeed News, Published on: 11 November 2019

“Amazon, Apple, And Google Are Distributing Products From Companies Building China's Surveillance State”, 4 November 2019

Amazon, Apple, Google, and other technology giants are distributing physical goods and apps from Chinese companies that the US government has accused of abetting human rights violations, BuzzFeed News has found.

The goods and apps come from three companies — Hikvision, Dahua Technology, and iFlytek — which the US Commerce Department recently placed on an export blacklist for their role in aiding in the surveillance and detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s northwest Xinjiang region… But it does not stop Amazon and eBay from selling their products in their own online marketplaces, or Google and Apple from distributing their apps to US consumers.

… BuzzFeed News counted hundreds of products from Dahua and Hikvision… and iFlytek… on Amazon, eBay, and Overstock. Apple and Google also collectively distributed more than 100 apps from the three Chinese companies on the Apple App Store and Google Play, the main marketplace for Android software…

The apps from Hikvision, Dahua, or iFlytek, which mostly relate to the operation of camera security equipment or speech recognition and translation, do not appear to violate the rules of Google or Apple’s app stores…

Representatives for Dahua, Hikvision, and iFlytek did not respond to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News. A spokesperson for the Commerce Department pointed BuzzFeed News to publicly available information on its entity list, but declined to comment on specific companies…

An Apple spokesperson said that the company takes “great care to curate the App Store,” adding that “all apps on the App Store must comply with local laws and cannot put individuals or groups in harm's way.”

While Apple does not believe it’s in violation of US law, the company was aware that companies blacklisted by the Commerce Department are not allowed to purchase or download exclusive software, toolkits, or frameworks. The spokesperson noted that apps from Hikvision, Dahua, and iFlytek sell their products around the world and that many of those apps are used by their customers to manage hardware like security cameras in typical situations.

Google acknowledged receiving BuzzFeed News’ questions but did not provide comment…

Dahua similarly had more than two dozen free-to-download apps through Apple’s App Store and at least 20 through Google’s. These apps offer options to control different surveillance systems, including one through Apple and two through Google Play that appear to be made for US home-security company ADT…

Asked about the mobile software, an ADT spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Dahua and referred BuzzFeed News to the Security Industry Association, a security company trade group.

 “SIA strongly believes all technology products must only be used for purposes that are lawful, ethical and non-discriminatory, and we believe security technology should be a catalyst for good in the world,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement. SIA declined to comment on ADT’s relationship with Dahua…

Maya Wang, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said it was the responsibility of companies like Apple and Google to ensure that they are not further contributing to human rights abuses. She added that companies should also have due diligence policies that examine how consumer apps are collecting data…

… BuzzFeed News found that some of the US’s largest online marketplaces — Amazon, eBay, and Overstock — have allowed third-party sellers to advertise and sell products from Hikvision, Dahua, and iFlytek…

Amazon did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

… Overstock did not sell any Dahua products but offered 56 Hikvision listings that appeared to be mainly from one third-party seller…

“Overstock regularly reviews our website to ensure all sellers adhere to the terms of our prohibited items list,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We have notified the sellers of the potentially noncomplying products and removed those products pending review.”

An eBay spokesperson acknowledged BuzzFeed News’ inquiry about the products but did not comment…

 [Also referred to SenseTime, Megvii, and Yitu]

Read the full post here

Related companies: Amazon.com Apple Dahua Technology eBay Google (part of Alphabet) Hikvision Megvii Sensetime