Amsterdam replacing Chinese CCTV & traffic cameras over spying concerns

The municipality of Amsterdam will stop the use of cameras made in China due to concerns about human rights and espionage, said Alderman Alexander Scholtes, who handles issues related to the city’s information and communications technology policy. The Chinese cameras are expected to be phased out within five years, Scholtes wrote in a letter to City Council on Monday.

Currently, 1,280 Chinese cameras are in use in Amsterdam for various “municipal tasks,” such as surveillance cameras or cameras monitoring traffic on the roads. In May 2023, the City Council adopted a motion calling on the mayor and aldermen to stop using Chinese-made cameras out of concern that these cameras transmit images to the manufacturer, to the Chinese government, or both, according to a story in NL Times.

There are also “concerns about the possible involvement of Chinese cameras manufacturers in human rights violations in China, including against Uyghurs,” Scholtes wrote.

The municipality is not going to immediately replace all Chinese cameras because of the high costs involved. Instead, the coalition government including the mayor and aldermen want to adopt new contract conditions including criteria regarding human rights when purchasing camera systems.

For example, all organizational units within the municipality must look for an alternative to Chinese cameras, whereby the departments themselves can assess the feasibility and costs on a case-by-case basis. It is expected that all current Chinese cameras in use in Amsterdam will be replaced at lower costs within five years.

With the new contract conditions and award criteria, the municipality will also prevents cameras from Chinese manufacturers from being provided by intermediate suppliers. Several Chinese cameras at the municipality’s facilities offices have already been replaced.

According to the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), many municipalities are struggling with the issue of Chinese cameras, Scholtes said. The VNG will share the details of Amsterdam’s contract conditions and award criteria for camera purchases with all municipalities, Scholtes wrote


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