The UK continues to be one of the most active countries involved in the trade of surveillance technology. British firms continue to export surveillance systems ranging from internet mass surveillance equipment to-catchers.
According to the UK’s Department for International Trade, the country granted a license to export surveillance equipment to Turkey earlier this year, exactly while the Turkish Government for International Trade, the country granted a license to export surveillance equipment to Turkey earlier this year, exactly while the Turkish Government was conducting a severe repression against opposites, dissidents, journalists and human rights advocates.
Turkey today continues to be the country that arrests more journalists than any other state worldwide. Last week, a Turkish court ordered the arrest of Amnesty’s Turkey director along with other human rights activists.
The Turkish law enforcement has probably bought IMSI-catchers used to conduct dragnet surveillance of mobile communications or systems for intercepting calls satellite calls. Unfortunately, data disclosed by the UK Government Agency did not reveal the type of technology acquired by the Turkish authorities.
“Motherboard has also found the UK previously granted other exports to Turkey specifically for IMSI-catchers, including a “compact” version. The UK has greenlit at least seven exports of surveillance technology to Turkey.” states Motherboard.
While the UK government granted the above license export, the situation in Turkey became particularly worrying. On December, the Turkish authorities investigated more than 10000 individuals over online terror activities. The suspects were accused of being responsible for the sharing of material and post against government officials.
The Turkish Government applied restrictions on the Tor anonymity network, and more in general, on all VPN services, that could be used to avoid censorship.
The Turkish authorities questioned more than 3,000 people from June to December 2016, 1,656 of them have been arrested.
We cannot ignore that Turkey is under the constant threat of the terrorist organization due to its Geographic location.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, “The UK government takes its defence export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world.” The spokesperson said the UK examines each application on a case-by-case basis, and draws from NGO reports and other resources. “We have suspended or revoked licences when the level of risk changes and we constantly review local situations.”
I personally believe that is absurd that UK, and any other Government, still provides surveillance equipment to any states that don’t respect human rights.
(Security Affairs – surveillance equipment, Turkish Government)