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Censorship Your Rights Online

European Firms Assisted Gaddafi's Internet Monitoring Regime 112

riverat1 writes "The Next Web has a story on Muammar Gaddafi's monitoring of the internet and other telecommunications. As you might expect, the monitoring was intense. The story names companies that supplied the monitoring software, most notably Amesys, a unit of the French company Bull SA. There is a more detailed story behind the paywall at the Wall Street Journal." Boeing's Narus division may also have been involved (collecting very important Analytics and nothing suspicious of course). Update: 09/01 16:08 GMT by UL :Axure pointed out that VASTech (South Africa), ZTE (China), and the aforementioned Narus (US) also provided assistance, making the title of the article a bit inaccurate. It seems the Libyan Internet monitoring was an international affair (my apologies to Europe).
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European Firms Assisted Gaddafi's Internet Monitoring Regime

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  • Every oppressive regime, from Nazi Germany to China, needs unethical companies whose management values money more than human freedom to maintain their power. The only reasonable thing that we as a society are morally obligated to do now is to publish all of the names of those companies for everyone to see, remember and boycott. If you are a consumer, don't buy their products. If you are a business owner, don't cooperate with them. If you are their worker, quit your job. If you are a stock broker, advise eve
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      'Every oppressive regime, from Nazi Germany to China, needs unethical companies...'

      Like IBM helped the Nazis find the Jews?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust [wikipedia.org]

      (sorry for the early Godwin)

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        Don't forget Henry Ford and GWB's Grandpa.

      • by mfh ( 56 )

        You should never be sorry for a Godwin if it's relevant.

        • by zixxt ( 1547061 )

          "Anyone who uses Godwin's Law as a comeback or a way to end an debate loses." -- Common Sense

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            Mike Godwin, the creator of Godwin's Law, says that your common sense is wrong: [arstechnica.com]

            Mentioning Hitler when it is appropriate like when comparing genocidal dictators is not covered by the law. It's the glib comparisons like that of your "common sense" that should be avoided.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      1. The company discussed doesn't sell into the consumer market. 2. Most businesses (small businesses) aren't their customers. Businesses they deal with are of the same corporate stripe as the people you're boycotting. 3. Quiting a job there will ease your conscience, but it won't stop what they do. It's noble; but ineffective. It might help keep you off the wall if the revolution comes; but the fact that you ever worked there means you might still get lined up and shot. 4. Sometimes evil companies

    • It's not that hard to get around this stuff. You can't boycott them all, and they all sell to allies and/or distributors that do.

      Cisco sells to Pakistan (ally), Pakistan sells to Russia (supposedly an ally now), who sells either directly to Libya (who was taken OFF our state terror list a while back) or to China (supposedly an ally now too), who sells to North Korea, Libya, Syria, or Canada, all definitely NOT allies. Boycott Cisco all you want, but good luck finding a competitor large enough to supply wh

    • Please... The same type of monitoring equipment and "deep packet inspection" tech could be found in AT&T Room 641A and probably other places across US. Is there any country that does not spy in it's citizens internet traffic?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The only reasonable thing that we as a society are morally obligated to do now is to publish all of the names of those companies for everyone to see, remember and boycott.

      Really? That's the only reasonable thing we can or should do?

      Bullshit. We can put these fuckers up against a wall. The same technologies are being used against us all by our governments, and these same corporations will be more than happy to sell us all into a totalitarian nightmare if they can make a buck doing it.

      Forever destroying LLC would be a start.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every country that has internet service has it monitored by the government. Every company that makes telephone equipment builds in the capability to monitor it as well, and governments use it, including yours.

    • wiretapping is the new hotness that ALL governments want to 'enjoy'.

      not one single country has refused to spy on its own people. not one.

      people are people. and people are bad unless KEPT good. who keeps governments good? no one! no one watches the watchers.

      • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
        Who watches you when you go over the speedlimit and dont get caught?
        Who watches you when you jaywalk, drive drunk, swipe a dollar, etc?
        See how I flipped it? You are now the government in your little cliche fanaticism of ignorance.

        Seriously, there is always someone somewhere doing something. If you want to close off your options, stay away from society, and keep your beliefs that everyone but you is bad, that is fine. But your hypocracy will do nothing for you nor solve your self-involving conundrum.
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Who is going to write the NSA a big fat ticket for domestic wiretapping?

          Who will drag them into a court where the wiretap cops testimony is automatically accepted over theirs?

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      builds in the capability to monitor it as well, and governments use it, especially yours.


      One could argue that, thanks to our government's paranoia and deep pockets, the technology needed to implement CALEA [wikipedia.org] and snoop on its own citizens (Boeing's Narus) was originally developed. Once in existence, it made its way onto the global market, including Libya.

  • six months ago (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:31AM (#37274920)
    Six months ago Gaddafi and his government were legitimate. There are export restrictions to many nations (both from the US and Europe), but was there one to Libya? I'd suspect there wasn't. So this becomes a moral issue. Companies should have a "don't sell to dictators" policy. We should isolate them from all trade. No more business with China until they have a freely elected government. No more oil from Saudi Arabia until the kingdom is overthrown. The only viable solution is for "free" governments to allow and encourage anonymous, encrypted communication. Yes, that will make the job of law enforcement harder, people will use it to violate IP laws and traffic in child porn, but it is the only way to enable free exchange of ideas outside government control.
    • Re:six months ago (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PixetaledPikachu ( 1007305 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:42AM (#37275042)

      So this becomes a moral issue. Companies should have a "don't sell to dictators" policy. We should isolate them from all trade. No more business with China until they have a freely elected government. No more oil from Saudi Arabia until the kingdom is overthrown.

      No more business with the US government until they close Guantanamo?

    • Companies should have a "don't sell to dictators" policy. We should isolate them from all trade. No more business with China until they have a freely elected government.

      So when you deny these countries all trade, who do you think it hurts the most? Do you the dictator and their cronies care? They might care that they don't get their Bentleys and 80 year old scotch but who really gets hurt are the people.

      Here's some bedtime reading for your altruistic folks [wikipedia.org] that an Egyptian pointed out to me when I said that US Sanctions are the only ethical way to get dictatorships in line. When we sanctioned Iraq, half a million children died [wikimedia.org]. Now, you might say that it's not you

      • Form Australian prime minister Bob Hawke abhored racism and then apartide regime in South Africa. He pushed for sanctions within the commonwealth, and Thatcher gave the same argument that you just gave. Sanctions were pretty ineffective for a time, but they did end up bringing the South African regime to its knees. You see, Hawke and a small secretive team met with the major creditors of South Africa, and they got them all to agree to cut of South Africa's credit all at once. The regime fell just a few mont
        • by jafac ( 1449 )

          This is exactly correct: And EXACTLY how Free Independent Quebec was brought-back into Canada after the popular referendum to secede.

          It's really not about TRADE SANCTIONS. It's about creditor blackmail.

          Now you understand who REALLY runs the world, and why everything (geopolitically) actually happens.

          You can circle-jerk all you want about politics and will-of-the-people, or even economics. But if a government, whether it's a gangster with a bunch of thugs, like Zimbabwe, or whether it's a constitutional pa

          • by hitmark ( 640295 )

            And why the Knights Templars where rounded up and killed once the debt of the French king was beyond his ability to manage.

            Hell, there have been uprisings in the past where the population would raid banks and lenders and burn their ledgers. But these days, doing so would mean taking out computers in various places around the nation (or even world) and stand the risk of wiping out peoples savings as well as their debt.

            Yep, the banksters really do have us by the balls this time round.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Yep, the banksters really do have us by the balls this time round.

              Only so long as you feel that helplessness. They are not immune to various forms of physical persuasion for example. Failing that, you can't bribe a bullet.

      • >Do you think they didn't know that we had imposed sanctions on their country which meant many of them starved?

        No country has a right to do business with the US or whomever. The reason they fought the US's troops after Saddam was caught was because WE INVADED THEIR COUNTRY AND KILLED A COUPLE THOUSAND CIVILIANS FOR THE FUN OF IT AND NO ONE WANTS TO BECOME A SERF IN A CLIENT STATE. See also Vietnam.

        I'm so sick of George Bush getting a free pass for invading Iraq because "sanctions are bad mmm'kay." I won

    • Six months ago Khadaffy and his government were the darlings of the civilized world. He met with many top European leaders. He gave the al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights to the progressive President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Trade was supposed to open up his regime, just like it opened up other oppressive countries. Give the common folk a taste of the good life and suddenly they want more than Khadaffy's couple hundred dinars a month.

      "Don't sell to dictators"? And then you mention China?

      • Six months ago Khadaffy and his government were the darlings of the civilized world.

        Speaking for the decadent and barbaric United States, I will say WE have consistently hated the bastard for quite a while. I suspect you'll find the UK did as well.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      No more business with China until they have a freely elected government. No more oil from Saudi Arabia until the kingdom is overthrown.

      No more McDonalds till all people from Gitmo had either a fair trial or are released. No more Microsoft till the war on drugs is stopped. No more respect for US trademarks and copyrights till American people get a civil, human and affordable healthcare.

      Mmm. I think we are on to something.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        As an American citizen, I would REALLY appreciate that, can you get started this week?

    • by tokul ( 682258 )

      was there one to Libya?

      http://www2.gtlaw.com/pub/alerts/2005/1209.asp [gtlaw.com]

    • So this becomes a moral issue. Companies should have a "don't sell to dictators" policy. We should isolate them from all trade. No more business with China until they have a freely elected government. No more oil from Saudi Arabia until the kingdom is overthrown.

      Yeah, that's worked real well with Cuba. The U.S. has had a trade embargo against them for some 50 years now, and last I checked their dictator was still sitting comfy with his position.

      I don't know what's the best method to indirectly topple a

      • by tokul ( 682258 )

        last I checked their dictator was still sitting comfy with his position

        There would be no Castro in Cuba without US and Fulgencio Batista. United States of America are not one of the America's favorites.

  • by acidradio ( 659704 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:34AM (#37274954)

    Corporations are "people"... until it is time to prosecute them. Then nothing seems to happen.

    • Prosecute them in this case for what, exactly?

      • For lack of common sense, of course :)

      • Prostitution?
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        If I sell you a gun knowing you intend to commit murder, I will be charged as an accessory to that murder (or perhaps they'll skip that and just make me a co-defendant for the murder). So charge the corporations with the crimes against humanity they knew they were supporting.

        • In order for such a charge to stick, you first need to convict those responsible for the crimes against humanity. Good luck with getting such a charge to stick to China.

  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @10:41AM (#37275020) Homepage

    Money talks, whats the real story here?

  • Corporations are required by law to be completely amoral money-making machines. They are supposed to pursue all legal avenues for profit, and can be sued by their shareholders if they do not. Therefor, it is no surprise that the vast majority of major corporations, even ones with slogans like "Don't be evil", will work with oppressive regimes in order to gain access to new sources of revenue.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      This is not true. The obligation to shareholders is not that short sighted. If a company can say they thought this could hurt profits if it came out they could avoid doing it. You can be sued by anyone at anytime, for just about any reason. This does not mean the person bringing the lawsuit will get anything.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No they are not. It is perfectly ok to have a policy of not selling stuff to certain customers, for example dictators.

  • It's funny. When it's in the USA you go even to the city-name. When it's outside, you pick the name that you can flame against the better.

    Shame on you.
    • More specifically:
      "Earlier this year, Libyan officials held talks with Amesys" - France / 'European'
      "other companies including Boeing Co.â(TM)s Narus" - USA / 'North American'
      "telecom company ZTE Corp. also provided technology " - China / 'Asian'
      "VASTech SA Pty Ltd [...] provided" - South Africa / 'African'

      So, I guess that leaves South American, Australian and Antarctic as the only continents' possessives that needn't be shamed?

      Yeah.. flamebait submission topic.

      • Re:"European" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @11:05AM (#37275226)

        Sure, it's flamebait. I should point out, however, that Narus (according to a different article on CBS, I couldn't read the WSJ article) rejected the Libyan's deal. The primary contributors were Amyses and ZTE, it looks like. One is Chinese (so you really shouldn't be surprised) and the other is French (which is the 'scandalous' part). So flamebait, maybe. Still true. Also, VAStech provided the tools to monitor international calls, so nothing to do with the Internet monitoring.

        So yeah, calling out a French company for selling to Libya is perfectly justified even if very flamebaity.

  • How about the British Labour Party? Up to their armpits in money, posts and doctorates when it comes to the Gaddafi family. Time for a boycott?

  • There are four contractors named in the story: Amesys (of Bull SA, France), Narus (of Boeing, USA), VASTech SA (South Africa) and ZTE (China). How on Earth did you come up with the title "European firms ..." ?? I hate to say, but you confirm some ugly stereotypes about Americans' awareness of the world beyond their borders. (BTW, the WSJ story is a rare free one - no pay wall.)
    • "Narus does not comment on potential business ventures," a Narus spokeswoman said in a statement. "There have been no sales or deployments of Narus technology in Libya."

      • Narus - USA - Nothing
      • Amesys - France - Eagle Technology to observe Network Traffic and read peoples emails
      • VASTech - South Africa - Zebra Survellience Product - tools to tap and log phone calls
      • ZTE - China - un-described monitoring tools and deals with security forces according to "insiders"
  • by mfh ( 56 )

    If you run a firm that provides IT snooping for war criminals, then you too are being a war criminal and you too should face criminal charges.

  • was doing business with Lybian regime, especially before it was called a "regime" but rather a "government".

  • KDQ (Kaddafy Ghadafi Qadafee) makes #2 on the list of all time badass African Dictators (Africanews.com http://www.africanews.com/site/Africas_top_10_dictators_of_all_time/list_messages/39642 [africanews.com] ). Trying to control how oil rich African dictators spend their money has never been a solution. Ultimately, the Revolution 2.0 or "Arab Spring" is a sign that young people in these emerging markets/nations have caught on to the idea of "blaming colonialists" for the acts if dictator assholes. Trying to blame "mul

  • Do you honestly expect a society that runs on pure greed to do a moral background check on its customers before cashing in?

  • I can't understand why everyone gets so upset about the fact that companies does business with dictatorships. It is not a companies place to dictate foreign policy, that is why we have politicians (they do precious little anyways so why make their burden even lighter ?). An embargo against a country should be enforced on a national level, by a nation or group of nations, not by a sales rep at Toy's 'R Us or Nokia. If they can refuse to do business with Gaddafi's regime that opens the flood gates to all kind
  • by X.25 ( 255792 )

    But if they'd sell the same thing to US government, or NZ government, then it's ok?

  • If you sell to a regime that represses its people, and there is a revolt, you risk being outed. Being outed as a supporter of a government that censors, oppresses, and attacks its own people can't be good for business. It would be nice if this became a trend. It would be more interesting and impressive if some monitoring companies actively marketed their distance from such regimes. "Our competitors support dictators. We do not. Make the ethical choice."
  • by dogsbreath ( 730413 ) on Thursday September 01, 2011 @12:01PM (#37275806)

    This is just a non-issue.

    If anything, it is a red-herring that draws attention away from the illegal and morally bankrupt behaviour of G and the gang of monsters he called family and friends. These companies sold equipment and technology within legal boundaries, practices and processes. Absolutely everything we consume today is tied to a moral issue at some degree of separation. Techno-morality cherry picking.

    Haul G's ass up onto the docket for prosecution. And reserve a special cell for Hannibal G and his twisted, obscene troll of a wife. Shine the spotlight on Algeria for propping up G with weapons, supplies and mercenaries, and in the final act for providing refuge for the clan.

    Go to
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2031390/Aline-Skaf-Gaddafis-daughter-law-threw-boiling-water-nanny-Shweyga-Mullah.html [dailymail.co.uk]
    to see what Aline Skaf (Hannibal's wife) did to their nanny.

    There is so much real, solid, evil to latch onto in this conflict, I find this story to be laughable.

    I would feel different if the foreign tech companies acted directly in immoral acts. Providing a country with monitoring capability is not even close to being immoral.

    If this issue turns your crank, then let's look at some other activities in Libya:

    Want a techno issue? How about the hosting providers who give voice to G propaganda outlets like mathaba.net and algathafi.org? Or other sites that the regime used to communicate with terrorist orgs?

    There are companies which drilled for oil to feed money into the regime. How did G get $50B / yr to keep Saif, Mutassim, Hannibal etc in their positions of power?

    Bankers gave safe harbour for billions embezzled from the country's coffers.

    What about the tanks and guns used by G to suppress the population? Where did they come from?

    Everybody and his malamute sold them arms. Want a morally corrupt issue? Talk to the Russians about the more than 20,000 SA7s (shoulder launched surface to air) missiles they sold G. Obsolete, next to useless against military aircraft even back when new, and useful mainly against civilian airliners. The CIA provided only 1500 Stingers to the mujahadin in Afghanistan. Expenditure on this one weapon system alone was over $100 million. Frick. Libyans are walking around with diseases caused primarily by neglect and malnutrition while the government is spending huge dollars on weapons useful only to terrorists.

    Huawei built the cellular infrastructure and then refused to help the TNC get the system going again in the Eastern part of the country after G chopped off coverage.

    How about the GMR and the unknown effect on water resources in Africa. Better haul Brown and Root to the table for a grilling along with Thyssen Krupp, and dozens of other companies.

    The list goes on and on, but so what?

  • by jafac ( 1449 )

    Freedom for us? Good! (we have no oil, right?)
    Freedom for "them"? NOT GOOD! Please send bombs/teargas/firewalls/wiretapping-equipment!

    Of course - we, in the US, and those in the UK, France, Russia/USSR, and other Superpowers, AND even regional powers, have been at this game for centuries. IN FACT. Rome did it to Gaul. Ancient Lower-Egypt did it to (what is now)Somalia, until they pressed for unification to become Upper-Egypt (upper/lower as-the-Nile-flows). Anywhere you have resources, and inequality

  • I think that it is time for /. to consider saying no to posts that have links behind paywalls.
  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleTechTalks#p/search/0/SSYXw87BWXo [youtube.com] Look especially 08:32 and a few minutes onwards.

    For the impatient: Privacy International reflects on the point that these dictatorship-friendly features aren't originally ordered by dictators. From the beginning it was demanded by western governments, and once available, not explicitly disabled to the next customer. (In this case, Iran)

  • I know someone who worked at Narus when it was a shiny new startup, and after hearing what they did (basically spy on internet users) I was a little shocked my friend was willing to work there.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.