Arab Dictatorships Use McAfee and Other U.S. Technology to Censor Internet and Spy

Friday, April 01, 2011
Authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have had plenty of help from American firms when it comes to censorship and spying on pro-democracy protestors.
One of the biggest players is Intel-owned McAfee Inc., provider of content-filtering software used by governments in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to block news and communications about demonstrations.
Bahrain apparently hasn’t been satisfied with the product and intends to switch to software developed by Palo Alto Networks Inc. because it supposedly is even better at shutting off access to web content. The Bahraini government also has done business with Blue Coat Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, California, as have the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, in bolstering censorship efforts.
Bahrain has cut deals as well with Cisco Systems, a leading manufacturer of Deep Packet Inspection systems that give state security agencies the ability to track and locate protestors via the Internet and cell phones.
Websense Inc. of San Diego claims it doesn’t sell its technology to dictators. But as it turns out, it has sold web-filtering technology to Yemen, where the government has been fighting to survive a popular uprising.
Narus, a Boeing-owned surveillance technology business, sold “real-time traffic intelligence” software that filters online communications and tracks them to their source to Egypt before the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The company also hasn’t been squeamish about selling surveillance technology to Muammar al-Gaddafi’s government in Libya.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web (by Paul Sonne and Steve Stecklow, Wall Street Journal)
Corporations and the Arab Net Crackdown (by Timothy Karr and Clothilde Le Coz, Foreign Policy in Focus)


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