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Belgium: Chinese scanners used by Customs collect our data

Christian Fernsby |
A decision by the government of Lithuania has raised concerns in Belgium about the security of fixed and mobile scanners constructed by the Chinese firm Nuntech, De Standaard reports.

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Last week Lithuania decided to ban Nuntech technology, after the country’s parliamentary commission on homeland security issued a damning report on the company.

“We have plausible evidence that Nuntech’s equipment can collect data about the movement of goods and people using passport numbers and fingerprints,” MP Laurynas Kasciunas, chair of the commission, told De Standaard.

A Chinese law from 2017 obliges companies like Nuntech to hand over data on demand to the security services. And while there is no clear evidence that Nuntech has already done so, the fact it is able to gather data, and would have to hand it over is required, is enough for Lithuania.

“We cannot guarantee that Nuntech will not later install backdoors through which security services can access that private data,” Kasciunas said.

Nuntech was set up by the son of the former Chinese president Hu Jintao, and is partly owned by the state-owned company involved in the development of civilian and military nuclear technology in China.

Nuntech scanners are installed at ports, airports and train stations in Belgium, where they are said to be ‘standalone’ – not connected to the IT network.

But the Customs authorities in Belgium appear unconcerned.

“This concern is not new,” said Francis Adyns, spokesperson for the customs service.

“But as far as we are concerned there has so far been no reason to be worried.”

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