On February 10th, Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian newspaper, published a long investigation into Norway’s ties with companies that produce surveillance and censorship technology that is used in authoritarian states. Their article is in Norwegian (someone should translate it!) and can be viewed on Scribd.
What follows is a quick summary in English that was sent to me by the author of the article. The sums involved are truly staggering.
A 13-page investigation by Dagens Næringsliv in its Saturday, February 10th issue shows that Norway has invested more than 2 – two - billion USD in 15 technology companies producing tech that can and has been used – for either filtering, wiretapping or surveillance of communication in various countries. Although surveillance tech is not the primary activity of all these 15 companies, they have all had, or still have some kind of connection to tech that can and has been used - for filtering, wiretapping and surveillance of communication.
Norway is the owner of the world´s largest sovereign wealth fund. The country’s pension fund - commonly referred to as its “oil fund”- has invested large sums in several producers of technology which has appeared in various authoritarian regimes and been used for filtering, listening to or watch the communication regime opponents. News about these uses of the technology has been debated internationally since the beginning of the “Arab spring”.
According to its ethical guidelines, the Norwegian pension fund cannot invest money in companies that directly or indirectly contribute to killing, torture, deprivation of freedom or other violations of human rights in conflict situations or wars.
Dagens Næringsliv´s investigation also reveals the extent of the Swedish phone giant Ericsson´s businesses with the Syria´s government and military. Ericsson has delivered more than one million telephone lines, infrastructure for landline, GSM and 3G phone services, several hundred multi-standard base stations, inter-city fiber optic links, switches and core network to the Syrian government and military since it was established there in the beginning if 1960s. Ericsson has served the telecommunication needs of Assad senior and junior. Ericsson has collaborated closely with the Syrian Telecommunication Establishment, Syrian military and two phone private companies with close ties to president Assad´s family – Syriatel, owned by president Bashar al-Assads’s and MTN, partly owned by the Syrian first lady´s family.
Network management products from companies such as Blue Coat, NetApp, Fortinet have appeared in countries like Syria and Burma and for filtering, monitoring and surveillance purposes. Amesys, owned by France’s Bull made a deal with Ghaddafi for internet monitoring in Libya. The filtering equipment of Smartfilter, owned by McAfee, recently bought by Intel, has been used in Tunisia and many other Middle-Eastern countries. Comverse Technology owns Germany’s Syborg Informationssysteme, which sells surveillance technology to Norwegian public entities through Tinex, a local Norwegian supplier of military technology.