Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

Summary: Free Press wants Congress to investigate US companies that may have helped the Egyptian government monitor and track protestors.


Free Press, the non-partisan lobbying organization, reports that US companies are involved in providing technology that helps the Egyptian government monitor protestors on the Internet and mobile phones.

Free Press issued a statement that claims:

Boeing-owned, California-based company Narus sold Telecom Egypt, the state-run Internet service provider, “real-time traffic intelligence” equipment, more commonly known as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology. DPI is content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from Internet users and mobile phones as it passes through routers on the Web.


Narus Vice President of Marketing Steve Bannerman said to Wired in 2006: “Anything that comes through (an internet protocol network), we can record. We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their [voice over internet protocol] calls."

Free Press is calling on Congress to take action on DPI.

The harm to democracy and the power to control the Internet are so disturbing that the threshold for the global trafficking in DPI must be set very high. That’s why, before DPI becomes more widely used around the world and at home, Congress must establish legitimate standards for preventing the use of such control and surveillance technologies as means to violate human rights.

Congress would be opening a Pandora's Box in terms of looking at the US companies that provide equipment to foreign governments that could be used against protestors. Some of the largest US tech companies are suppliers to governments in China, Iran, Burma and other countries that have been accused of human rights violations.

But where do you draw the line? DPI has many uses, and not all of them are nefarious. It would be near impossible to control the export of network hardware and software based on its possible use by foreign governments.

However, a public shaming of US companies might have an impact and it would certainly be faster than waiting for Congress to act.

You can support Free Press and its call on Congress to investigate the use and sale of DPI technology by American companies by signing your name here.

Topics: Browser, Government, Government US, Networking

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  • DADT, volume 2....

    This is an area where our Congress doesn't want to ask too many public questions because I'm guessing if countries start getting outed for using these technologies, the USA will make the list.
    • so what i'm sure they do

      and with good reason. if some traitor steals and sells vital military information to our enemies i would want the government to be able to rebuild his deleated emails and expose the person.

      the technology is fine - as long as you use it for the right reason.

      its like guns - whats the problem if all i use it for is target shooting? its fine as long as i don't use it to shoot someone.
      Ron Bergundy
      • RE: Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

        @Ron Bergundy
        Haven't you learned that governments, when given the power, never use anything for the right reason?
    • RE: Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

      @jasonp@... My opinion goes like this: DPI technology is useful, but its uses should be limited so it doesn't hurt our privacy. What other government do in their own countries, it's not our business. I would like to be able to download a <a href="http://www.paretologic.com/products/regcure/index.aspx">clean registry</a> application without the government knowing that. Hope I made my point.
    • RE: Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

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      • RE: Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

        I think our privacy should be on the first place.I mean I don't want them to know when I download a version of <a href="http://us.battlestar-galactica.bigpoint.com/">battlestar galactic</a> on which I don't have a licence.I remember that a few years ago in my country people were raided because of what they were downloading.That is just wrong.
  • This is assuming companies feel shame

    "However, a public shaming of US companies might have an impact and it would certainly be faster than waiting for Congress to act."

    The only shame US companies feel is when they get caught breaking the law, or an unethical decision/sale/partnership costs them money.
  • USA

    Biggest skeleton in the closet here is the US govt.<br><br>USA gives them $1.3 a year in military aid, you're basically paying for the army that keeps him in power.<br><br>The danger here is that Egypt flips and the people of Egypt turn on USA like the Iranians did when they threw out their US backed dictator.<br><br>So why not help him leave and become heroes instead? <br><br>Clinton's trying to have it both ways, and hedge her bets, but that not a winning strategy here because as long as USA funds him, USA keeps him in power.<br><br>If you stop funding the military in the middle east countries, the nutters would have to pay for their own military, and America's budget deficit would be a lot less too.
  • we should make sure in the future that

    only Americans can enjoy this great technology, not our enemies!
    Linux Geek
  • I guess you really need to think of it this way

    Think of all the gun deaths in the world. Are there articles asking "Did Smith and Weston help shoot Representative Gillfords?"
    Michael Alan Goff
    • But...

      I don't think Smith and Wesson does consulting work for revolutionaries or assassins. I do think corporations should be rather circumspect about the work they do for foreign governments, but I'm not convinced new laws will help. Activists letting the public know who's working for whom doing what would probably be more effective.
      John L. Ries
      • Let me elaborate

        Is it bad that the technology was used the way it was? Yes.
        Was it a bad idea to give technology to our allies that was likely to given to fight terrorism within the country? No.

        Remember this simple fact: Egypt may be a terrible dictatorship, but they're still a legitimate government.

        These companies sold stuff for legitimate causes to legitimate people. Just as gun manufacturers aren't liable for their products being used wrong, neither should the businesses who sold legitimate products.

        They don't control Egypt and how their technology is used, that's all I was saying.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Have US companies helped in Egypt Internet crackdown?

        Maybe or maybe not who knows what americans do.I mean there are so many top secret project that nobody knows about their existence.I remember the first time when I played <a href="http://us.battlestar-galactica.bigpoint.com/">battlestar galactic</a>.First time I thought the game is inspired by real life.
  • Yes.