Media watchdog names and shames ‘Internet enemies’
Reporters Without Borders points finger at ‘digital era mercenaries’
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has named what it says are companies that have sold or are providing software that is used for surveillance and intelligence gathering of people using the Internet.
The activist organisation listed five companies on what it said is a World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, dubbing the entities 'Corporate Enemies of the Internet', describing them as "digital era mercenaries".
They include Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat.
The companies "sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on its website. The list is not exhaustive and will be expanded in the coming months, it said.
It also provided a list of five countries which it said were 'State Enemies of the Internet', whose governments "are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights".
The company's "products have been or are being used to commit violations of human rights and freedom of information", the organisation said.
"If these companies decided to sell to authoritarian regimes, they must have known that their products could be used to spy on journalists, dissidents and netizens," it added.
"If their digital surveillance products were sold to an authoritarian regime by an intermediary without their knowledge, their failure to keep track of the exports of their own software means they did not care if their technology was misused and did not care about the vulnerability of those who defend human rights."
The organisation went on to add that just as reporters covering conflicts resort to helmets and protective gear when on assignment, Internet users should also take measures to protect their privacy and communications. It published in several languages an 'Online Survival Kit' that provides guidelines that can aid people in circumventing censorship and securing communication.