The Dutch government must support its national cyber security industry or risk the economy becoming too dependent on American and Chinese tech companies, cyber security council CSR has said.
The government advisory body said the government must act quickly or the Netherlands will lose its grip on internet safety and home-grown technological knowledge will disappear abroad.
The Netherlands is now largely dependent on companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle for its digital services, and this, the CSR said prevents it from making its own rules surrounding, for instance, espionage and privacy.
American big tech, in particular, is continually monitoring new innovative developments and start-ups which they take over at an early stage, the CSR said. This is particularly the case with successful European start-ups which need big investment.
To counteract this, there must be more support for strategic Dutch tech companies, the CSR said. In June last year, for example, the government invested €20m in Eindhoven tech company Smart Photonics in order to prevent it from being taken over by a foreign buyer.
However, an important player like FOX IT was bought by British internet technology gorip NCC in 2015 and smaller companies too have been snapped up, the CSR warned.
The CSR is also recommending officials stop putting IT services out to public tender but instead vet them on their national security risks, as is already happening in the defence ministry. This will effectively exclude American and Chinese bidders, the CSR said.
The European Commission has been calling on member states to limit dependency, particularly on Chinese technology. It is time The Hague listened,’ Rob de Wijk, founder of think tank The Hague-based think-tank HCSS told the Financieele Dagblad.
Van Wijk said that KPN’s decision to choose Huawei to provide sensitive parts of its 5G network, for instance, is ‘very curious’. ‘It went for the cheapest option but it should be forced by the state to buy from a European contender,’ he said.
The Netherlands must also invest in its own detection systems for computer hacks for vital services which banks, telecom operators and water companies would then be forced to use. To make the Netherlands ‘cyber resilient’ it must invest an extra €833m on top of the current budgets, the CSR estimated.
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