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Questions Raised About U.S. Firm’s Role in Egypt Internet Crackdown

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FreePress.net

Date: January 28, 2011
Contact: Jenn Ettinger, 202-265-1490 x 35

WASHINGTON — A U.S. company appears to have sold Egypt technology to monitor Internet and mobile phone traffic that is possibly being used by the ruling regime to crack down on communications as protests erupt throughout the country. 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.

The company is also known for creating “NarusInsight,” a supercomputer system allegedly used by the National Security Agency and other entities to perform mass surveillance and monitoring of public and corporate Internet communications in real time.

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 Campaign Director Timothy Karr made the following statement:

“What we are seeing in Egypt is a frightening example of how the power of technology can be abused. Commercial operators trafficking in Deep Packet Inspection technology to violate Internet users’ privacy is bad enough; in government hands, that same invasion of privacy can quickly lead to stark human rights violations.

“Companies that profit from sales of this technology need to be held to a higher standard. The same technology U.S. and European companies want to use to monitor and monetize their customers’ online activities is being used by regimes in Iran, China, Burma and others for far more suspicious, and possibly brutal, purposes.

“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.”

For more information, read Karr’s story at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/one-us-corporations-role-_b_815281.html

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