Saturday, January 19, 2013

Planet Blue Coat: More on internet surveillance patterns around the world

As a follow up to the previous post, an article in Slate reporting that Silicon Valley internet surveillance gear was being used by authoritarian regimes caught my eye yesterday.  It described a study just released by researchers from Canada's Citizen Lab.
The report shows that network technology made by Blue Coat, a Silicon Valley based company, is being used in a number of countries that have questionable human rights records. Part of the problem is that the Blue Coat product is so-called "dual use" technology. It can serve a legitimate purpose—like filtering out spam or malware. But in the hands of an authoritarian regime it can easily be turned into a tool for monitoring users or blocking content.
The accompanying graphic shows patterns in the spread of different Blue Coat technologies to countries around the world. (click to see a full size version, or go to this link to further explore the data on an interactive map).  The interactive map reports that 9 packet shaper deployments were found on three networks in South Korea.
The complete Planet Blue Coat surveillance report can be downloaded from Citizen Lab at this link.  The findings include the following statement: "Our findings support the need for national and international scrutiny of Blue Coat implementations in the countries we have identified, and a closer look at the global proliferation of “dual-use” information and communication technologies. Internet service providers responsible for these deployments should consider publicly clarifying their function, and we hope Blue Coat will take this report as an opportunity to explain their due diligence process to ensure that their devices are not used in ways that violate human rights."

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