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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Britain Sued for Selling Surveillance Techniques

The government of the United Kingdom seems to be in hot water with Privacy International which is suing the country for selling snooping technology to such states as Syria, Iran and Egypt.

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According to the privacy watchdog, the British government allowed snooping technology to be exported to repressive foreign regimes, including Iran. Indeed, for a while now privacy outfits have been wondering how this country got its paws on some natty software to spy on its people. The watchdog claimed in 2011 that Creativity Software was selling a location-tracking system to Iran.

Later there were reports that Gamma International was also selling "FinSpy" technology to the now-fallen Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, which was used to hack into people’s email accounts or simply take full control of their PCs.

Privacy International has written a letter to Vince Cable, secretary of state for business innovation and skills. In the letter it asked the government to amend the rules letting this technology to be exported without any troubles.

The watchdog complained that the controls haven’t kept pace with the way the market and the technology have shifted – they were concerned that the FinFisher range of technologies and other surveillance equipment has legal uses where export controls are unnecessary.

It seems that the government will be given a fortnight to take action and update the list of products that require check before export or the watchdog will file for judicial review and seek an injunction.

Media reports add that representative of a Privacy International claimed the body fully expected to go to court, because it was unlikely that the government would take action.

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