Trade

EU is selling surveillance tech to China, says rights group

European tech companies are selling digital surveillance technology to China, according to rights group Amnesty International.

Amnestys findings, published Monday, come ahead of negotiations this week in Brussels on European surveillance export rules, known as Recast Dual Use Regulation.

The research found that three companies in France, Sweden and the Netherlands sold surveillance tools including facial recognition technology and network cameras to Chinese security agencies.

In some cases, European technology is used in Chinas indiscriminate mass surveillance programs, and may also be deployed to suppress Uighurs and other vulnerable minorities, according to the human rights group.

“EU governments condemnation of the systematic repression in Xinjiang rings hollow if they continue to allow companies to sell the very technology that could be enabling these abuses. The current EU export regulation system is broken and needs fixing fast,” said Merel Koning, a senior policy officer at Amnesty.

The report comes as European lawmakers sit down with national governments to amend the Recast Dual Use Regulation, which Amnesty argued needs reform.

Tech company Morpho, which is now part of the French multinational Idemia, nabbed a contract to supply facial recognition equipment directly to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau in 2015, the report said.

The NGO also found that the website of Swedish company Axis Communications, which is repeatedly listed as a “recommended brand” in Chinese state surveillance tender documents, states it boosted its network of security cameras in the southern Chinese city of Guilin almost fourfold as part of the citys surveillance program upgrade.

Further, Dutch company Noldus Information Technology sold “emotion recognition systems” to public security and law enforcement bodies in China.

The report found that Nolduss tech was used by Chinas Ministry of Public Security, as well as by universities with links to the countrys security apparatus in the Xinjiang region, where China has been accused of using digital surveillance to repress the Uighurs, a Muslim minority ethnic group.

The report comes as European lawmakers sit down with national governments to amend the Recast Dual Use Regulation, which Amnesty argued needs reform. The talks, which begin Tuesday, come after the Commission proposed firming up restrictions on surveillance tech exports earlier this year.

The Commission made the new proposal after negotiators in the Council and EU Parliament in March failed to finalize an agreement on the EU executives initial 2016 plan. The talks aim to get the bill over the line.

“The EU exports regulation framework needs fixing, and it needs it fast,” the Amnesty report said.

“For example, facial recognition technologies are not on the control list of the EU export regulation framework. These technologies can be exported freely to every buyer around the globe, including Chinese public security bureaus.”

A spokesperson for Noldus said the company does not manufacture surveillance tools, implemented a strict sales policy in 2019 to stop its tech being used for surveillance and adheres to OECD and UN standards on human rights.

“In the 30 years that my company has been developing research tools, we have never come across a sRead More – Source