Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Selling Big Brother technology to governments is big business

Watchdog Privacy International spent four years building the Surveillance Industry Index, an online database of close to 400 firms that sell systems that allow governments to hack into Internet cables responsible for carrying e-mail and phone traffic

By Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor  /  The Guardian, LONDON

She said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has responsibility for granting export licenses, had to ensure it has the skills and knowledge to assess new technologies, particularly if they were being sold to “countries of concern.”

“The knowledge of staff which maybe more geared to more traditional types of weaponry,” she added.

A department spokesperson said: “The government agrees that further regulation is necessary. These products have legitimate uses in defending networks and tracking and disrupting criminals but we recognize that they may also be used to conduct espionage.”

“Given the international nature of this problem we believe that an internationally agreed solution will be the most effective response. That is why the UK is leading international efforts to agree export controls on specific technologies of concern. We expect to be able to announce real progress in this area in early December,” the spokesman said.

Rice said surveillance companies were “developing, marketing, and selling some of the most powerful, invasive and dangerous technologies in the world that are keeping pace with the capabilities of the NSA and GCHQ.”

“The borderless nature of the Internet and digital communications puts everyone’s phone calls, text messages, e-mails, internet activity, and our most private communications are at risk. Mass surveillance is neither necessary nor proportionate,” he said.

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