Marco Rubio Wants Senate Secretary, House Clerk to Reject Chinese Attempts to Silence U.S. Publishe

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-NY, sent a letter to Cheryl Johnson, the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sonceria Ann Berry, the secretary of the U.S. Senate, following reports that Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company (Hikvision) urged their offices to investigate Internet Protocol Video Market (IPVM) for supposed lobbying disclosure violations.

In doing so, Hikvision attempted to exploit congressional processes to silence IPVM for its unfavorable reporting about the Chinese state-controlled video surveillance company.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Ms. Johnson and Ms. Berry:

Recent news reports have shed light on attempts by Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company (Hikvision), a Chinese state-controlled video surveillance firm, to use the offices of the House Clerk and Secretary of the Senate to bully Internet Protocol Video Market (IPVM), an American publisher, into silence for its unfavorable reporting about the company. Congressional ethics must always be maintained to the highest standards. However, we urge you to not allow our transparent and open system to be cynically exploited by firms like Hikvision, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. government for its implication “in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the XUAR.”

As you may know, IPVM has conducted several thorough investigations exposing Hikvision and other companies’ involvement in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mass detention and surveillance of Uyghur populations in China’s Xinjiang region. These findings, including on Hikvision’s creation of “ethnic sorting” features for its surveillance products, provided critical information to Congress and Federal Agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which recently added Hikvision to its “Covered List” of high-risk equipment and services. Now, with the enactment of the Secure Equipment Act (P.L. 117-55), which effectively allows the FCC to bar the importation or sale of any new products from companies such as Hikvision regardless of funding source, the firm is attempting to subvert the law by attacking the integrity of its critics, using a cohort of American legal and public relations firms to do its bidding. Congress must not fall victim to its dishonest scheme.

As Chinese state-backed and directed firms continue to feel pressure from various sanctions first implemented under the Trump Administration, Hikvision’s efforts to silence dissent using your offices will likely be replicated by other malign entities tied to the CCP. Congress should take no part in these efforts. We urge your respective offices to see Hikvision’s smear campaign against IPVM for what it is worth and to remain vigilant against future attempts to use your offices as a mechanism to chill free speech and silence dissent.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter.

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