Dutch company sold surveillance equipment to China, says Amnesty International


At least three European companies, based in the Netherlands, Sweden and France, have sold advanced surveillance technology to Chinese security services, Amnesty International said based on its own research. According to the human rights organization, these companies are at great risk of contributing to human rights violations, reports NOS.

The Dutch company involved is Noldus Information Technology from Wageningen. According to Amnesty International, she sold emotion recognition systems to agencies affiliated with Chinese public security and law enforcement organizations. Noldus could not give a clear answer on the research he did to ensure his systems were not abused before selling them, Amnesty International said.

A facial expression analysis system like the one developed by Noldus has been found to be in use at a number of Chinese universities associated with police and public security organizations. China’s public security ministry is also using the software to investigate the behavior of people suspected of corruption, the human rights organization said.

This form of export to China is currently not prohibited by law. Amnesty International wants to change this by demanding that European rules be put in place so that there is control over the export of software in the field of recognition of emotions and ethnicity. The organization wants facial recognition software to be banned altogether, according to the broadcaster.

Noldus told NOS in response that its products do not pose a risk to human rights and meet all ethical standards. The software it makes is not surveillance technology, but only for behavioral research, Lucas Noldus, director of Noldus Information Technology, told the broadcaster. The Chinese universities in question have purchased the software for scientific research for which participants still need to give their consent, Noldus said.

“I am very surprised by Amnesty’s investigation,” Noldus said. “The main misconception is that my company manufactures surveillance systems. We make software for scientific research and human behavior that is used worldwide by psychologists, ergonomists and consumer specialists. Research is subjected to ethical tests. We’ve been developing products like this for 30 years. “

According to Noldus, his company’s software cannot be abused as Amnesty International claims. “It is technically impossible to extend this software to monitoring software in public spaces. You cannot violate human rights with a product that records behavior on a computer based on four records.”


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