According to TechCrunch, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes will no longer be selling security cameras from Lorex and Ezviz after the outlet reported on the brands’ parent companies’ involvement in supplying the Chinese government with surveillance tech.
According to the US government, both Dahua (Lorex’s owner) and Hikvision (Ezviz’s owner) stand implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They have reportedly helped supply surveillance equipment for monitoring ethnic minorities. One of the largest oppressed groups is the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group the Chinese government is accused of putting in detention or reeducation camps, using as forced labor, and more.
The home security cameras and systems from Lorex and Ezviz aren’t banned from sale in the US, despite restrictions from the Department of Commerce on their parent companies. However, when TechCrunch reached out to retailers about Lorex and Ezviz’s links, Home Depot and Best Buy reportedly promised to stop working with the companies. Home Depot cited its “standards of ethical sourcing” as its reason for pulling the products from its online store, and while Lowes reportedly didn’t respond about the matter, Lorex’s products were pulled from its site.
Best Buy told TechCrunch that it would be “discontinuing its relationship” with the companies. However, Lorex’s security cameras still seem to be available on its site (and certain models are even on sale). Searching Ezviz turns up no results. Home Depot and Lowes’ search systems don’t return anything for Lorex either; while the latter shows results for Ezviz, all the products are listed as unavailable.
These surveillance issues aren’t only limited to security camera companies. The US government has limited how US companies can work with drone maker DJI by adding it to the Entity List after reports raised concerns about its drones also being provided to police forces in Xinjiang. DJI’s consumer products are still allowed, but companies would face similar ethical dilemmas when it comes to selling DJI’s products as they would for Lorex (though DJI is a bigger name in drones than Lorex is in home security). Best Buy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it intends to keep selling DJI’s drones and cameras.
In a statement to IPVM, a surveillance-focused outlet that co-reported the story with TechCrunch, the president of the World Uyghur Congress said that it’s “unacceptable that there are still American companies directly helping further” the group’s oppression. The statement could apply to retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club, which continue to sell Lorex products, but it could also apply to tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Tesla, and more, which have been tied to suppliers that reportedly used forced Uyghur labor.
Despite the US government saying that China was committing genocide against Uyghurs, a report from The Dispatch says that the country didn’t admit a single refugee from the minority group between October 2020 and September 2021. The report cites difficulties escaping China due to checkpoints and video surveillance, a maze of red tape, and “lack of urgency” when granting asylum as reasons for the shortage of admissions.