Lawmakers Demand Costco Answer for What Is Being Found on Store Shelves

Lawmakers are wondering why retail giant Costco continues to sell products that have been banned by the U.S. over concerns that they allow the Chinese government to spy on Americans. Costco is currently selling home security devices made by Lorex, which is linked to the Chinese company Dahua. The Federal Communications Commission blacklisted Dahua surveillance products in 2022 due to the “unacceptable risk” posed to national security. Dahua has also been accused of using slave labor, not to mention helping the Chinese Communist Party track and surveil the Uyghur population. Those human rights issues were highlighted by TechCrunch in 2021, when a number of big U.S. retail chains — including Home Depot and Best Buy — began pulling Lorex products off their shelves. But not Costco — and lawmakers want to know why. Republican New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith and Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley sent a letter to Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek on Tuesday demanding answers. The congressional duo said it is “puzzling” that the company is still selling products with “critical vulnerabilities,” including possible “unauthorized viewing of video and audio feeds and archives, as well as unauthorized network access and remote tampering with settings.” “No data collected can be withheld from [Chinese] authorities should they request it for intelligence purposes,” Smith and Merkley said. The two noted that while Lorex was recently sold by Dahua to the Taiwanese company Skywatch, concerns remain about its products giving Beijing backdoor access to the U.S., “as Dahua still supplies all the component parts for the Lorex cameras and other surveillance equipment.” Smith and Merkley also pointed out that Dahua has been linked to China’s genocidal campaign against the Uyghurs. [firefly_poll] “Dahua developed … tracking technology that allows police to identify ethnic Uyghur faces and deploy invasive surveillance technology,” the pair wrote. “Dahua also co-developed ‘ethnicity tracking’ technical standards within China that predict the probability an individual is a Uyghur, Tibetan, or other ethnic group.” The two lawmakers sent Jelinek a series of nearly a dozen questions asking him to explain Costco’s continued relationship with Lorex, including how Costco can justify that relationship in light of its stated commitment to human rights. Smith and Merkley also brought up “reports indicating the possibility of forced labor in your company’s seafood supply-chain.” “We should both agree that American consumers should not be subsidizing horrific human rights abuses — by either Chinese security or seafood companies,” they wrote. Costco has not yet commented on these issues. It should come as no surprise that China looks for every opportunity to spy on Americans, track our movements, and mine our data. And it should go without saying that this is extremely dangerous to our national and individual security. Tech companies that are beholden to the Chinese government need to be stopped. It simply makes no sense for American retailers to willingly hand one of our most dangerous enemies all the information it needs to target us.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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