NtechLab considering Asia HQ in Thailand as Russian facial recognition continues selling abroad
Russian developers are still able to find potential buyers of their digital surveillance technologies abroad despite sanctions imposed by western powers. They are also maintaining existing business ties with others.
Some of Russia’s major companies have been under sanctions from the West following the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Early this month, an investigation revealed that a number of western companies were also using biometric solutions licensed by Russian video analytics firm NtechLab.
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) writes that some of these companies still find buyers of their technologies thanks to the partnerships they have established with western tech giants, making it possible to circumvent some of the sanctions.
According to the report; Protei, Nexign and Citadel, the main suppliers of the Systems for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM) solution, which tracks information from mobile telephone operators, are part of this category of Russian firms. Nexign denied that it supplies technology for SORM solutions in an email to Biometric Update.
Other speech and voice biometrics firms cited by the article include NtechLab, one of Russia’s leading facial recognition solution providers, Netherlands-headquartered VisionLabs, which operates in about 60 countries around the world, and Speech Technology Center, whose ownership changed hands after the Ukraine invasion, apparently to avoid western sanctions.
NtechLab extends market presence to Thailand
In the meantime, NtechLab says it is entering the Thai market to make the most of not only the country’s tech talent, but also its digital technology research potential.
According to an announcement, the Russian firm is also considering Thailand as its Asia headquarters.
Already, NtechLab is present in 23 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Europe.
“In 2021, NtechLab experienced rapid development at all markets. In Southeast Asia, we grew 40 percent more than in 2020. In 2022, year-over-year growth has already exceeded 40 percent,” says Liana Meliksetyan, chief commercial officer at NtechLab. “We are currently looking at Thailand as a potential NtechLab headquarters. The country is a driver of digital transformation in the region.”
“As a leading face recognition software company, NtechLab has established a worldwide network of trusted partners who implement our technology. Companies in Thailand show amazing expertise in research and development and digital transformation projects implementation,” says Dmitry Tameev, head of Business Development & Sales (Asia-Pacific) at NtechLab.
“We are also looking to attract talented, young professionals and scientists from Thailand. We are ready to share our expertise, conduct joint projects, and share expertise with Thai companies and government entities to implement a smart and safe cities concept.”
Details emerge on Moscow’s video surveillance system
A BBC report has found that the video surveillance system in Russia’s capital, Moscow, operates on four facial recognition algorithms, which are able to identify suspected criminals and political opponents.
All four algorithms are connected to the Moscow mayor’s office and they work at the same time.
Apart from reports that the system has caught criminals within the Moscow metro area, one of the four algorithms has been used to monitor political opponents of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.
Video analytics firm NtechLab is known to be one of the solution providers for the system which is said to have been active since 2020. The BBC says the Moscow mayor’s office disclosed to it other biometrics providers include Tevian, VisionLabs and Kipod.
Kipod, which also works at Moscow metro stations, was the facial recognition solution used to track those who partook in protests against the regime of Lukashenko in 2020, notes the BBC. It has come under sanctions for this.
In the past, there have been privacy and human rights concerns about the deployment of surveillance systems in public spaces in Russia, such as at metro stations, schools and universities.
This post was updated at 7:30pm Eastern on September 6, 2022 to include the response from Nexign.