Privacy International defends the right to privacy across the world, and fights surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations. Read more »

UK 'exporting surveillance technology to repressive nations'

The Observer
Publication date: 
Jamie Doward and Rebecca Lewis
Original story link: 

Privacy International said it had visited international arms and security fairs and identified at least 30 UK companies that it believes have exported surveillance technology to countries including Syria, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain. A further 50 companies exporting similar technology from the US were also identified. Germany and Israel were also identified as big exporters of surveillance technology, in what is reportedly a £3bn a year industry.

Last month Privacy International asked 160 companies about sales of equipment to repressive regimes. So far fewer than 10 have written back to deny selling to nations with poor human rights records. The campaign group warns: "The emerging information and communications infrastructures of developing countries are being hijacked for surveillance purposes, and the information thereby collected is facilitating unlawful interrogation practices, torture and extrajudicial executions."...

"By the time the embargo is in place the ship has sailed," said Eric King, head of research at Privacy International. "Our research shows the idea that this is not a British problem is wrong. We need governments to act now. In a few years this equipment will need to be updated; these countries don't have the technical expertise to do it, so this is something the UK needs to be aware of and to take action against now."