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US toll giant’s prospective sale to Singapore-based biz revs up security concerns

Americans who signal up for automated funds at toll cubicles present delicate info, comparable to their house addresses, bank card numbers, driver’s license info and license plate numbers, so as to velocity their commutes.

But that info, together with U.S. visitors patterns and vulnerabilities at airports and navy bases, may finish up within the palms of different nations – together with adversaries – if the pending sale of the nation’s main tolling firm, TransCore, to a Singapore-based agency goes by way of, consultants informed FOX Business.

They say the sale raises concerns about not solely the potential sharing of non-public knowledge, however of dangers to nationwide security.

Nashville-based TransCore is chargeable for roughly 70% of the tolls Americans pay by way of operations like its E-ZPass fee system, utilized in “24 of the 25 states that have toll roads,” in accordance to an SEC filing from 2017.

The firm’s web site notes that “11 of the 15 largest toll agencies in the United States utilize TransCore toll collection systems for every type of tolling system.”

TransCore is owned by Florida-based Roper Technologies, which introduced in early October that it was being purchased by Singapore Technologies Engineering, referred to as ST Engineering, for $2.68 billion.

ST Engineering is a protection and engineering agency that sells to greater than 100 different international locations. Its majority shareholder is Temasek Holdings, which is required by regulation to assist fund Singapore’s price range every year and in addition does substantial enterprise in China.

TransCore logo in blue and white
Florida-based Roper Technologies owns TransCore, which has its headquarters in Nashville.
TransCore

Given China’s affect on each the Singapore authorities and Temasek, the communist nation and different international locations may probably finish up with TransCore’s knowledge if ST Engineering is in a position to buy the U.S. firm, in accordance to a supply conversant in the matter who spoke to FOX Business on the situation of anonymity.

A second supply, a transportation professional who additionally requested to stay nameless, voiced the identical security concerns and informed FOX Business that TransCore knowledge might be used to observe the situation of somebody of excessive nationwide curiosity within the U.S. by figuring out a person’s toll route patterns.

The Committee on Foreign Investment within the United States (CFIUS) underneath the Treasury Department has the facility to put a cease the acquisition, however is prohibited by regulation from disclosing whether or not the transaction is being thought of. However, ST Engineering confirmed to FOX Business that they did voluntarily file for CFIUS approval.

As of now, the deal stands an excellent likelihood of getting that nod.

A huge expanse of toll booths on a highway
Critics of the sale consider it may pose a menace to not simply private privateness but additionally nationwide security.
Getty Images

ST Engineering has had nice success shopping for U.S. corporations, boasting in an announcement earlier this 12 months that it “has successfully obtained CFIUS approvals for all 11 of its past acquisitions in the U.S. where such clearances had been sought, including all three of its acquisitions in 2019.”

“ST Engineering has been operating in the U.S. for more than 20 years, employing 5,000 people in 12 states around the country,” ST Engineering North America chairman and president Tim McBride informed FOX Business, noting that the U.S. headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia.

A separate ST Engineering spokesperson dismissed the data-sharing concerns, saying, “TransCore’s business involves limited data in tolling and traffic management on behalf of its customers. TransCore customers own and control the data, how it is used and where it is stored. ST Engineering is committed to supporting TransCore in fulfilling its obligations to customers, including data protection requirements. To that end, all data will continue to be stored in the U.S.”

One buyer of TransCore is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is the most important transportation community in North America and covers the entire of New York City, different elements of New York state and Connecticut. The MTA doesn’t seem involved with the sale of TransCore to ST.

An individual toll booth at night
ST Engineering says that it’s going to handle toll methods with out interference from Singapore’s authorities.
Getty Images/Image Source

MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan informed FOX Business in an announcement, “The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority’s contract with TransCore provides explicit privacy and security protections which are binding on any new owner of the business, regardless of its location, and the MTA is confident its customers are appropriately protected from unauthorized disclosures.”

After the sale, ST Engineering says it intends for TransCore to proceed working simply because it does now underneath Roper Technologies, “with the same employees and management team.”

As to claims that there’s a danger of affect from the Singapore authorities, an ST Engineering spokesperson mentioned, “As a stock exchange-listed commercial enterprise, ST Engineering operates based on commercial principles without any interference from the government or Temasek, and abides by sound corporate governance and compliance rules.”

Roper Technologies issued an announcement to FOX Business, saying, “Roper is confident that ST Engineering will be an excellent long-term owner of TransCore given ST Engineering’s global presence, extensive operations in the U.S., and strong reputation among members of the business community and the U.S. Government.”

FOX Business’ sources, nevertheless, say there are authorities companies in a number of states that “have significant questions about the data and impacts on homeland security,” and intend to current their concerns to the Treasury Department committee.

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