U.S. Lawmakers Charge Costco With Selling More Banned Surveillance Equipment
Retailer is selling banned Chinese-based security products that have been linked to cybersecurity risks and human rights abuses.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A pair of U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek, asking him why the warehouse retail company is selling banned Chinese-based security products that have been linked to cybersecurity risks and human rights abuses.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called for Costco to remove Lorex surveillance equipment from its shelves, saying it’s “puzzling” that the retail giant is selling products on the Department of Commerce’s “Entity List” for its role in the PRC’s genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to a Gizmodo report.
The Federal Communications Commission banned all telecommunications and surveillance equipment owned by the Chinese company, Dahua, which included Lorex products in 2022, for vulnerabilities discovered including “unauthorized viewing of video and audio feeds and archives, as well as unauthorized network access and remote tampering with settings,” Smith and Merkley said in the letter.
The letter cites Costco’s responsibility to remove such products from its shelves and accuses the company of going against its previous commitment to prohibiting international human rights abuses, according to the report.
Costco Blasted for Selling Lorex Surveillance Products
Costco Wholesaler Corporation has a global Code of Conduct “which prohibits human rights abuses” in its supply chain including human trafficking, physical abuse, restricting freedom of movement, unsafe work environments, excessive or forced overtime, illegal child labor, and many others, the report says.
Dahua sold Lorex earlier this year to Taiwanese-based company Skywatch, but that “does not allay our concerns or immediately change the security risks posed to U.S. companies and consumers moving forward, as Dahua still supplies all the component parts for the Lorex cameras and other surveillance equipment,” the letter says.
The letter also says the U.S. government linked Dahua to the Uyghur genocide, according to the Gizmodo report. The government found it developed “ethnicity tracking” to identify Uyghur, Tibetan, or other ethnic groups that included alert and tracking technology and invasive surveillance technology.
Dahua’s technology aided Chinese police in locating and monitoring the religious activity of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities as early as 1995, The Guardian reported, but officially took hold in 2017.
That year, Uyghur were displaced and moved to reeducation camps where they were subjected to forced labor, intense surveillance, and involuntary sterilizations, prompting foreign governments to describe China’s actions as genocide, the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in September 2022.
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