Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DC convention helps governments spy on citizens

Representatives from governments across the globe gathered in Washington DC last month, but it wasn’t international affairs that they were there to discuss.

The meeting, rather, was an annual conference where figureheads far and wide come together to discuss the latest and greatest ways to spy on their own citizens.

At this year’s Intelligence Support Systems (ISS) World Americas conference, the only consumers were the governments of great nations far and wide who came together in DC last month to go over the newest achievements in “lawful interception” methods, reveals an article published this week in the UK’s Guardian. According to their filing, international figureheads came together on American soil to find the freshest ways to carry out clandestine surveillance on their own citizens back home by hacking smart phones, laptops and anything else with a circuit.

The actual roster from this year’s guest list is kept top-secret, much like the information inside the exclusive DC conference room, but past reports suggest it reads like a who’s who of foreign nations. In 2008, for examples, the Spanish biometrics company Agnito said they were proud to be a participant in that year’s conference, which it describes on their website as a meeting-place that focuses on Intelligence Gathering. As the worldwide leader in voice biometrics, Agnito’s list of clients includes the Spanish Ministry of Defense, the national police of France, the prosecutor’s office of South Korea and some of the biggest banks in Spain. Don’t let that list of “friendly” nations let you think that nothing is amiss here, however. In The Guardian’s article, Jerry Lucas, president of TeleStrategies, says that the manufacturers of surveillance technologies are free to pitch products to any nation they want.

"The surveillance that we display in our conferences, and discuss how to use, is available to any country in the world,"Lucas tells The Guardian. "Do some countries use this technology to suppress political statements? Yes, I would say that's probably fair to say. But who are the vendors to say that the technology is not being used for good as well as for what you would consider not so good?"

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