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The Spy Files

Jan 26

Written by:
26/01/2012 16:40  RssIcon

The companies profiting from spying on citizens revealed

The companies profiting from spying on citizens revealed

Late last year Wikileaks released nearly 1,100 internal documents, sales brochures and manuals for products sold by the manufacturers of systems for surveillance and the interception of telecommunications.

These new leaks reveal a mass surveillance industry that’s now worth $5 billion a year, with technologies capable of spying on every telephone and Internet network on a national scale. The flagships of this market are called Nokia-Siemens, Qosmos, Nice, Verint, Hacking Team, Bluecoat and Amesys. The documents detailing their interception capabilities will be progressively released online by Wikileaks.

Wikileaks have documented a total of 133 of these surveillance weapons dealers, including 36 in the United States, 18 in the United Kingdom, 15 in Germany, 11 in Israel and eight in Italy. As with “traditional” arms dealers, most of them are located in rich and democratic countries. 87 sell tools, systems and software for monitoring the Internet, 62 for telephone surveillance, while 20 are for spying on SMS messages. 23 are involved in speech recognition, and 14 with GPS geolocalisation. Seven of the companies are also involved in the area of “cyber-war offensives”, selling Trojans, rootkits and other backdoors used to take control of computers remotely and without the knowledge of their users. These spy systems are distinct from those used by ordinary hackers in that they could not be identified by the “majority” of antivirus systems and other computer security solutions.

In Western democracies, the marketing and use of these systems of surveillance and interception of telecommunications is strictly controlled. There is nothing, however, to prevent their sale to countries with weaker restrictions, including to dictatorships. Although these tools are designed for espionage, they are not considered weapons. As such their exportation is controlled by national, European or international laws. Whether or not this business is moral, as things stand it is completely legal. For example Nokia Siemens in Germany sent internet surveillance equipment to Syria via neighbouring Iran.

You can find out which companies are involved using the interactive map below.




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