UK faces legal action over snooping software sales
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 23 Jul 2012 at 12:25
Privacy International has threatened the UK government with legal action for "turning a blind eye" to UK sales of snooping technologies to regimes that use them against their citizens.
According to the campaign group, British companies are supplying technologies for monitoring web access to oppressive regimes, and UK officials are not adequately applying export control laws.
In a letter sent from PI's lawyers to the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, the group claimed there was "no substantive progress in the implementation in the UK of export controls".
The letter, seen by PC Pro, gave the government 21 days to alter its position or PI will ask for an injunction and call for a judicial review of whether the UK's sale of snooping technologies complies with the Export Control Act 2002.
The government must stop exports of British surveillance technologies to despotic regimes before more harm is done
"British companies have been peddling their wares to repressive regimes for years now," said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International. "Publicly condemning the abuses of dictators like [Syria's] Al-Assad while turning a blind eye to the fact that British technologies may be facilitating these abuses is the worst kind of hypocrisy. The government must stop exports of British surveillance technologies to despotic regimes before more harm is done."
The letter cited products made by Andover-based Gamma International as an example, saying its software and services were used in Egypt and Turkmenistan to monitor both computer and mobile phone use, but said other companies were also selling similar products.
"Text message and call records retrieved in this way have been presented to victims during subsequent torturous interrogations," PI said.
Gamma couldn't be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Please stop reposting fake Facebook messages
- Is Facebook safe for business?
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Facebook Graph Search: don't panic
- Gmail drafts and Pastebin: could they evade the email snoops?
- Applying for a job at GCHQ? Here's your plain-text password
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Yes, I write down my passwords