Italian company heading Syrian spy project drops out
3:32pm | 28 November 2011 | by Mike Rispoli, English
Huge news! Due to overwhelming public pressure, Area SpA, the Italian company seen as leading the construction of a new, sophisticated surveillance system in Syria, will be ending their involvement with the project, according to a report in Bloomberg.
We are encouraged to hear that Area SpA will not contribute to the building of this system, which would have allowed President Assad’s regime to monitor and store web communications, internet use, and other data of all users in Syria. But it raises larger questions: Who else are Area SpA selling to? And what steps have they taken to ensure that human rights abuses are not ensuing from the use of their products in other jurisdictions?
"Claiming lack of knowledge is no excuse anymore. Technology can be used a weapon, and as such should be treated with the same care and sold with the same due diligence," said Brett Solomon, Access Executive Director. "This sends a clear message to government that they must properly regulate the sale of such technologies. We cannot rely on self regulation or campaigners like ourselves to expose this dark trade every time it takes place."
Over 11,000 people from the Access global movement for digital freedom campaigned against Area and three other Western companies, including sending letters to these CEOs calling on them to immediately and permanently withdraw from this deadly project. In addition, three Access members were directly involved in pressuring these CEOs and elicited personal responses! All of this helped today's news come to fruition and shows the strength of our collective voice.
Keep up the pressure! Sign and share the petition here: https://www.accessnow.org/page/s/stop-syrian-surveillance
Already, Qosmos has officially backed out; Utimaco/Sophos has halted all business with Area until an investigation is completed; and NetApp condemned the use of their technology in a statement during their quarterly earnings call and is investigating the allegations.
After our campaign was launched, Bloomberg continued uncovering other actors in this proposed surveillance system. Computer giant Hewlett-Packard was found providing $578,000 worth of equipment, mainly servers, to the Syrian project. Just as we did with Area, NetApp, Qosmos, and Utimaco, we are also calling on HP to immediately and permanently withdraw from Syria.
In the digital age, companies cannot hide who they sell to. This incident sends a warning signal to other companies that the public will not countenance the direct or indirect sale of technologies to murderous regimes. Messr's, Georgens (NetApp) and Munford (Utimaco) should take heed of their fellow CEOs.
Be sure to sign and share the petition here: https://www.accessnow.org/page/s/stop-syrian-surveillance