European Companies Help Egypt Spy on Citizens

June 2, 2016

It seems that, as Egypt was brutally repressing citizens during the massive protests of 2010 and 2011, European companies were selling citizen-surveillance tech to that country’s secret spy agency. Hammerhead Combat Systems shares the article, “Espionage Files: European Companies Sold Spy Tech to a Secret Egyptian Intelligence Unit Amid Brutal Repression.” The article  cites a report from Privacy International; writer Namir Shabibi tells us:

“The investigation, entitled ‘The President’s Men? Inside the Technical Research Department, the secret player in Egypt’s intelligence infrastructure,’ is the first to shed light on the growth of the TRD intelligence unit, its pivotal role in Egyptian intelligence apparatus and its links to European companies.

“The TRD’s growth is consistent with claims by human rights defenders that the Egyptian security service was in reality untouched by the revolution. Instead, it quietly went about strengthening itself under the cover of political turmoil.

“The report implicates two European companies in the sale of surveillance technology to TRD. At the time of mass protests in Egypt between 2010-11, it claims Nokia Siemens Networks provided the TRD mass surveillance capabilities including an interception management system and a monitoring center.

“Moreover, according to Privacy International, leaked emails from Italian surveillance equipment seller Hacking Team dated from last year show that it expected to earn a million euros from the sale of intrusive surveillance technologies to the unit. The technology would allow TRD complete access to the computers and smartphones of targeted individuals.”

Note that Nokia Siemens owns Trovicor, which does real-time surveillance and intercepts. The article states that former President Hosni Mubarak used the TRD to fight his political opponents and that the system may date back as far as Anwar Sadat’s rule. Seemingly unabashed, Hacking Team asserts they are in compliance with Italian regulations. On the other hand,  European Member of Parliament Marietje Schaake suspects these two companies have violated existing EU rules and, if not, insists new rules must be created immediately. See the piece (originally published at Vice News), or navigate to the Privacy International report itself, for more details.


Cynthia Murrell, June 3, 2016

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