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The campaigners for Privacy International as well as other human rights groups like the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights and Bahrain Watch are about to question Gamma International UK. It is believed that the company’s surveillance software may have been used against dissidents in Bahrain. The complaint was filed on February 1st and seeks probes of whether UK based Gamma Group and Munich based Trovicor GmbH violated guidelines for business conduct.
By exporting their software, Gama may have well breached the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) guidelines concerning human rights. The OECD guidelines are designed to promote responsible business conduct. The case also brought to light another issue and that is the freedom of exporting software technology. The software, known as FinSpy, can be used to activate a device’s internal camera and microphone and capture images and audio recordings of the user.
Martin J Muench, Gamma International’s managing director, rejected the claims according to which FinSpy has been used in over a dozen countries. In an email to the Observer, Muench said: “Gamma co-operates with the export controls authorities and the regulators of the UK, US and Germany.” He also said his company did not sell the spyware to Bahrain, but rather it had been stolen, copied and used without permission.
Muench stated: ” The modification meant that there was no message sent to our server when the demo product was used against a real target,” he said. An unaltered demo would have sent a message to Gamma, and the company would have been able to deactivate that copy of the software”
In a statement, the head at research at Privacy International, Eric King said: “We very much hope the OECD process will persuade Gamma and Trovicor to take a long hard look at their current and future clients, and to think carefully about the role their products play in the targeting and torture of activists and the suppression of pro-democracy voices.” Muench said in an e-mail that: “until such time as the OECD has conducted its investigations and reached its conclusions it would be inappropriate for me to comment.” He also said Gamma will continue to cooperate with export control authorities and regulators of the U.K., Germany and U.S.
TSCM – Counter-Electronic Surveillance
Unless respecting specific guidelines, surveillance and surveillance equipment can fall into the category of illicit actions. The Conflict International team can offer carry out a thorough physical sweep throughout the survey area, utilising trained personnel who are familiar with the various types of illicit monitoring devices. The Technical Surveillance Counter Measure available from Conflict International is an industry-leading one, utilising the latest radio and telecommunications line analysing equipment.
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