This report presents a detailed analysis of the international trade in surveillance technology. Its primary concern is the flow of sophisticated computer-based technology from developed countries to developing countries - and particularly to non-democratic regimes. It is in this environment where surveillance technologies become technologies of political control.
Surveillance technologies can be defined as technologies which can monitor, track and assess the movements, activities and communications of individuals. These include an array of visual recording devices, bugging equipment, computer information systems and identification systems. These innovations are used by military, police and intelligence authorities as technologies of repression.
The surveillance trade is almost indistinguishable from the arms trade. More than seventy per cent of companies manufacturing and exporting surveillance technology also export arms, chemical weapons, or military hardware. Surveillance is a crucial element for the maintenance of any non-democratic infrastructure, and is an important activity in the pursuit of intelligence and political control. Many countries in transition to democracy also rely heavily on surveillance to satisfy the demands of police and military. The technology described in this report makes possible mass surveillance of populations. In the past, regimes relied on targeted surveillance.
Big Brother Incorporated is the first investigation ever conducted into this trade. The report identifies the trade with such countries as Nigeria, China, Angola, Rwanda Zambia and Indonesia. More than 80 British companies are involved, making the UK the world leader in this field. Other countries, in order of significance, are the United States, France, Israel, the Netherlands and Germany.