French spyware executive accused of aiding in torture


Earlier this week, French authorities Prosecute four former executives Surveillance company Nexa Technologies (formerly known as Amesys) has been charged for involvement in torture and war crimes. Between 2007 and 2014, the company allegedly provided surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in Libya and Egypt.

A coalition including the International Federation of Human Rights, the Cairo Institute of Human Rights and other human rights organizations claimed that the authoritarian government of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi Use these tools to identify dissidents and activists, read their private emails and messages, and in some cases kidnap, torture, or kill them.

Nexa executive accused of selling Internet monitoring equipment Intercepted emails, text messages and Facebook messages from journalists and dissidents.Executives Allegedly sold Provided technology to Gaddafi’s Libyan government in 2007 and Egypt in 2014. The individuals being sued include Philippe Vannier, former head of Amesys, Stéphane Salies, former president, and two current Nexa executives: President Olivier Bohbot and Managing Director Renaud Roques. Efforts to contact these people through Nexa were unsuccessful.

The investigating judge of the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Unit of the Paris Judicial Court will Review evidence Decide whether the four executives will be tried in criminal courts.

Such allegations are extremely rare. National security experts say that the international market for export monitoring tools is largely unregulated. Manufacturers of such devices often oppose restrictions, even those designed to prevent abuse.A kind The efforts of European journalists in 2017 It is estimated that there are more than 230 surveillance companies in the EU.

“In general, the authorities hardly need to take any measures to curb this toxic market,” said Marietje Schaake, the director of international policy at the Stanford Cyber ​​Policy Center and a former member of the European Parliament.During Parliament, Shaq supported New restriction Regarding the export of network surveillance technology from Europe to countries with a history of human rights violations.

Proposed and adopted by EU legislators in 2016 last yearThese new rules require companies to obtain licenses to export certain “dual-use” technologies, such as software that can perform surveillance, hacking, or data extraction. Governments reviewing permit applications must assess the possibility of these tools being used to violate human rights.

The lawsuit against French executives stems from sales before the introduction of new EU regulations, but Schaake hopes they will send a message that it is possible to control network monitoring equipment. She said it is much easier to monitor sales before the product enters other countries. Usually, Western countries resist this idea the most.

“The company sees these tools as being used to combat terrorism,” Shaq said. “It is the state that is really responsible for torture or kidnapping, but these companies are providing key tools to achieve it.”

Concerns about sales in Libya and Egypt can be traced back to the “Arab Spring” in 2011, when journalists and privacy groups Alert American and European companies Furnished monitoring equipment To oppressive regimes.

In the United States and the European Union, export controls are Fragmentary fashion, The security company says Excessive restrictions Can punish research, counter-terrorism, or other lawful use of software and human rights organizations Emphasize their potential Instigating authoritarianism.

U.S. last October Updated own rules Control the export of potentially dangerous software.Ministry of Commerce said It will now take human rights While considering Approve or reject the license International sales for the company.Like the EU, changes are coming After multiple failed bids Overhaul. But what this actually means is still up in the air.

Garrett Hinck, a national security researcher, said: “You have to consider that human rights are getting more and more attention in European and American circles, as well as more attention to human rights violations in China and elsewhere.” At Columbia University.

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