Wide deployment of Nuctech’s technology in Europe triggers security concerns
The extensive use of security technology from Chinese biometrics and surveillance solutions provider Nuctech across many sectors in Europe is fueling fears about the safety of data that passes through devices running on that system, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
Nuctech has deployed security scanning and surveillance systems to many of Europe’s major air and seaports, per the report, the borders of some NATO member-countries sharing boundaries with Russia, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, among others. Nuctech supplies its services and solutions to clients in 170 countries around the world.
The company is said to be closely linked to the Chinese government and the ruling Communist party, and therefore is seen by some as a high security risk given China’s well-known intensions of becoming a dominant technology player on the world stage.
The volume of research by Chinese firms into face biometrics and other visual surveillance tools now outpaces that of many other leading nations put together, according to a recent report.
According to the AP report, the unclear ownership pattern of the company and the expanding nature of its foothold in Europe, and around the world, are the issues also giving room for apprehensions that China could well be using Nuctech to get illegal access to vital data from governments, organizations or individuals. The report buttresses this fear by making allusion the China’s national intelligence laws which oblige companies to hand over any data at the request of state security institutions.
As a result of the company’s low bids for contracts and reported huge support from the Chinese government, Nuctech has often beaten other bidders to mega contracts, hence expanding its reach and entrenching its roots in Europe. Presently, the company has a presence in all but one of the 27 European Union member-states. Nuctech was also hit with an anti-dumping duty by the EU following a complaint by a competitor in 2009.
In the face of these concerns, officials of Nuctech Europe have hit back, arguing that their operations are in compliance with laid down regulations on data privacy and they have absolutely no business interfering with the data collected or processed using their system.
Robert Bos, the deputy general manager of Nuctech Netherlands, told AP the company has been victim of such allegations of data breaches or compromises regarding its technology over the years – a pattern he says has negatively affected Nuctech’s market share performance in Europe. The company also defends its business involvement in the Xinjiang region of China where the country is accused of gross rights abuses especially against the Uighur minority, saying it is a big market.
Apart from providing scanning systems for people, baggage and cargo, the company also manufactures explosives detectors and interconnected devices used for facial recognition, body temperature checks and ID verification and authentication, AP mentions.
The U.S, according to the report, also has Nuctech in its bad books as many government and public institutions have been vocal against the use of its technology for national security reasons.