Pittsburgh Using Chinese Surveillance Cameras Banned by U.S.

Pittsburgh Using Chinese Surveillance Cameras Banned by U.S.

The cameras in question were banned by the US Federal Government because of hacking concerns. They were capturing highly sensitive data and relaying that information back to China, thus, they were outlawed. Pittsburgh is still using them.

Last week, I wrote an article about how you can find hidden cameras you suspect might be spying on you. But secret cameras and technology that can access information uninvited are not restricted to peeping toms. It is big business, and countries across the world are always scrambling to stay ahead of their rivals in relation to protecting sensitive information. That's why the U.S. Congress banned two Chinese surveillance camera companies last year: because of the perceived threat that those cameras were sending sensitive information from the U.S back to China.   

However, it seems that Pittsburgh didn't get the memo. In Allegheny County, dozens of cameras made by Dahua, one of the companies banned from selling cameras to any U.S. state, have been discovered. Worse, the locations of some of the cameras could lead to a compromise of national security, according to a top hacking expert. It might seem fanciful, but when you learn that Dahua was originally banned after an investigation found it was taking information from a Fortune 500 company and relaying it back to China, it doesn't seem so far-fetched, does it?

Spying and gathering sensitive information is almost as old as human life itself. Game of Thrones would have finished after one or two episodes if it wasn't for the backstabbing and skullduggery and traitorous lies. But what confounds me is how there can be a such a disconnect between state and federal governments. These cameras were bought by the Allegheny County District Attorney. How did he make the purchase, the transaction, and get receipt of the goods if they'd been banned? That's the more worrying thing in my eyes.

What are your thoughts?

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. He has presented at conferences globally and written for numerous international publications. To learn more about his work, his life in Japan, or how he plans to semi-retire at 64, check out his writing on Medium by clicking the website link above.

Log in or register to post comments

curious if that same DA would prosecute an unlicensed drone operator?

Double standards are part of the oath aren’t they? :)

If he is using a Chinese branded drone as DJI, maybe!
As these drones that send all captured pictures and flight logs to China...

Advanced paranoia...
The propaganda war never stops. Cuba, Russia, China etc...

YES, Seriously.

Any company based in China is entitled to get their servers there. it's called China Data Protection Regulations (CDPR), implemented in 2018. Use google for more. 
DJI is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen.Any server based in China is subject to full disk dump to the authorities, without a need for any warrant.
It's called Regulations on Internet Security Supervision and Inspection by Public Security Organs" (公安机关互联网安全监督检查规定) , since 2017
It gives many interesting power to the police.
"Copy any user information found on inspected systems during on-site or remote inspections."

This is something that was implemented in 2017.Please check the "privacy policy" when you sign in to the DJI go app. All these details are sent back to DJI servers.I have put the main one below, yes, Skynet is already there.

Device-Related and Flight-Related Information. When you use DJI Products and Services, you may provide us with information relating to (i) your DJI Product or Service, your non-DJI device on which the DJI Product or Service is used (including computers, phones, or other devices where you install or access DJI Products and Services), and your photos or videos that you upload using DJI Products and Services. This information may include: (i) information about your non-DJI device (including your device ID, hardware version, and operating system); (ii) information about your DJI device (including the model and serial number of your device); (iii) geolocation data relating to your non-DJI device and DJI device and any photo or video you submitted using DJI Products and Services; (iv) information about any photo or video recorded, including the name of the video file, the length of the video, EXIF data relating to the photo or video; (v) other technical information, including the IP address used by your non-DJI device, and flight data; and (vi) data associated with your DJI account.

Here are just a few who spy on us all day and every day:
The list is long and many are Americans.

If US President can order a company and the company has to comply immediately!! (as we saw with Google, Intel etc.) what stops this government from demanding all information they have on us including messages, photos etc? For all we know, they (US government agencies) already have all the info on us, social site users.

Yet, you do not see world wide panic, do you?

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I feel there's a fundamental difference between Facebook looking at the landscape photo groups I peruse and a camera company sending Fortune 500 company info back to the motherland......

cheers for the link. Undoubtedly scary how they can access so much of our lives but I feel that article strengthens my POV - social media sites can/do monitor individuals. This article here and its reference to appropriating Fortune 500 company info/intel/classified data is entirely different (to me). Great topic for debate though.

Im not finger pointing and saying one is worse than the other therefore the least worse is better. I'm saying Facebook isn't innocent or lesser it's just as guilty. As is Google, Microsoft, Amazon etc at having and using this data.

yes can't disagree with any of that. The greater issue is that these companies were expressly banned by Congress, yet that didn't seem to filter through to the Allegheny County District Attorney. If Congress banned FB, I'm pretty sure we'd all get the memo....

Well it's not like if China banned Google you'd take note. It's just pointed as censorship of the internet.

How nany individuals wirking in sensitive positions use FB, IG, Google etc. Agencies do not care about your landscape photos, or you. The infoemation gathered by social services is way beyond your photos... Way...

The fact you like landscape photography builds into who you are as a person. But no they don't care about the photo it's self. Unless the day and location is interesting. The metadata in the photo. How you got the money to buy it. How you got there. The "anonimized" location data from your phone over lapping the exif data of the photo.

Tons of data that we speared around as we do our business and pleasure activities.

Instead, they should be using security camera systems made entirely in the USA, right? Even if there was such a thing, Edward Snowden already taught us that wouldn't be a secure approach...

They will bomb Pittsburgh first...

You are correct. Most industry pros never recommended either to clients, but not for security reasons. They're both typical Chinese commodity product.