How BAE Sold Cyber-Surveillance Tools to Arab States (excerpt)
(Source: BBC News; posted June 15, 2017)
A year-long investigation by BBC Arabic and a Danish newspaper has uncovered evidence that the UK defence giant BAE Systems has made large-scale sales across the Middle East of sophisticated surveillance technology, including to many repressive governments.
These sales have also included decryption software which could be used against the UK and its allies.
While the sales are legal, human rights campaigners and cyber-security experts have expressed serious concerns these powerful tools could be used to spy on millions of people and thwart any signs of dissent.
The investigation began in the small Danish town of Norresundby, home to ETI, a company specialising in high-tech surveillance equipment. ETI developed a system called Evident, which enabled governments to conduct mass surveillance of their citizens' communications.
A former employee, speaking to the BBC anonymously, described how Evident worked. "You'd be able to intercept any internet traffic," he said. "If you wanted to do a whole country, you could. You could pin-point people's location based on cellular data. You could follow people around. They were quite far ahead with voice recognition. They were capable of decrypting stuff as well."
One early customer of the new system was the Tunisian government. The BBC tracked down a former Tunisian intelligence official who operated Evident for the country's veteran leader, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
"ETI installed it and engineers came for training sessions," he explained. "[It] works with keywords. You put in an opponent's name and you will see all the sites, blogs, social networks related to that user."
The source says President Ben Ali used the system to crack down on opponents until his overthrow in January 2011, in the first popular uprising of the Arab Spring. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the BBC News website.
BAE 'Secretly Sold Mass Surveillance Technology to Repressive Regimes' (excerpt)
(Source: The Guardian; posted June 15, 2017)
BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, secretly sold mass surveillance technology to six Middle Eastern governments that have been criticised for repressing their citizens, the BBC has reported.
The sophisticated technology can be used to spy on a huge number of people’s emails and mobile phones, triggering accusations from human rights campaigners that it is being used to silence or jail dissidents.
According to documents obtained by the BBC, the equipment has been sold in recent years to the governments of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Morocco.
The documents also reveal official concerns that the export of the technology could backfire and imperil the security of Britain and its allies, the BBC said.
BAE said it was unable to comment on specific contracts “due to the strict national security and confidentiality regulations we operate under”. The manufacturer disputed some of the BBC’s claims without specifying which ones. It added that it was committed to “operating ethically and responsibly”.
According to a BBC investigation published on Wednesday, the sales of the controversial technology were made through a Danish company that BAE bought in 2011.
The firm, now known as BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, sells a surveillance tool that, according to the BBC, can collect, catalogue and analyse millions of people’s electronic communications.
The BBC quotes an anonymous individual who it says used to work for the firm, describing the technology: “You would be able to intercept any internet traffic. If you wanted to do a whole country, go ahead. You would probably need something to narrow your search down, either by a specific person, a specific email address, specific IP address or specific keywords to search for.” (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on The Guardian website.