Former Security Committee chair raises China data centre security concern

Sir Malcolm Rifkind wants Ministers to ensure potential Global Switch deal has no implications for UK’s national security

Posted 5 September 2016 by

'Google-data-center' by Sivaserver on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/dGfiWiFormer Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has raised security fears about a possible sale of UK-based data centres to China.

According to a report in The Sunday Times at the weekend, the billionaire owners of data centre player Global Switch are working through a possible multi-billion sale of 50% the operation – one of the world’s biggest computer hosting players – to Chinese investors.

But the former Minister has called for Cabinet-level scrutiny of the deal to ensure there are no possible negative national security implications of the deal.

“The Government needs to be satisfied there are no risks involved,” Rifkind, former chair of the influential Intelligence and Security Committee, is quoted in the story as saying.

“I would assume they will be taking advice as we speak from the intelligence agencies – from GCHQ in particular, and from others with the expertise to know the risk factor.

“If there is a significant national security dimension, then anyone selling a British company would normally listen very carefully to the advice they receive from the British Government.”

The article quotes a Global Switch response to its enquires that  insisted there would be no security implications involved because the firm was a property company, and the Chinese state would have no access to data.

“From a customer perspective, Global Switch will continue to provide highly resilient and secure data centre space which complies with the guidance issued by the UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure as part of the UK Government’s national security strategy,” it quotes the company as saying.