This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
With this box, the dreaded Syrian intelligence service can easily crush any opponents of the regime. The router is produced by an American company, - and Norway as an investor.
THE WATCHERS The Arab spring have caused Klondike-like environment for a very dangerous multimillion dollar business, - the surveillance industry. New opportunities for mass-surveillance have emerged and is a major hit with both dictatorships, democracies and Norway's petroleum found. *Written by Osman Kibra* The power is out. Aladdin sits in the dark, but he is online. From his hiding place on the Syrian countryside he prepares to report how many killed and wounded he have seen today. He connects to the web via satellite, and get in touch with Dagens Næringsliv (the news paper with the article). Prior to the riots, the father of 3 did not use internet much. He made a living transporting vegetables with his truck. Then, when almost everyone he knew in his village got killed in a period of 20 days, he decided to fight Assad’s dictatorship in his own way. He acquired an illegal satellite phone, some computer equipment and started reporting, sending pictures and videos of the daily killings. 10 months later, he has lost count of the causalities. Only this day, he witnessed four killings. - I don’t have a choice, Basar Al Assad have killed my people. He continues to kill my people. Should I just run away and let all these people get killed? - His home has been ransacked several times, and the activist can get caught anytime. No means of communication is safe anymore. - He knows that using a cell phone or hooking up to the internet is one of the riskiest things dissidents of Syria can do these days. The government have armed them self with new modern technology which enables them to detect and servile dissidents quicker than ever before. Almost every single email, phone call or Internet connection can be traced. When the dissidents are identified, lots of them gets arrested, tortured and killed. Aladdin is one of the few who knows how to circumvent the surveillance in one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Whilst the riot in Syria is heading into its most dangerous phase, the Arab spring have brought forward a Klondike for a little known, top secret multimillion dollar industry: the mass surveillance industry. THE WATCHERS MEETING POINT Part 2
In the lobby of a 5 star American luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the mood is gloomy. The suspicion sticks with every one checking in the last 24 hours. If one look away from a small sign at the counter in the reception, there is nothing indicating that something special is about to happen. The 950 invited, are not normal hotel guests. They belong to a privileged elite of surveillance experts, military intelligence officers, police chiefs and spy's. In addition to the people keeping the lowest profile of them all. Producers and sellers of surveillance equipment. The gathering, Intelligence Security Systems World, also known as “Watchers ball” is the surveillance industries most important meeting point. Here comes everyone who is selling or buying the latest development in surveillance. Everything that happens at ISS is becomes and stays governmental secrets. The entire fourth floor of the Hilton hotel is closed of security people make sure that none other than those invited get inn.
PAGE 44 The surveillance industry can keep up with peoples' most private information through secret back doors that exist in a lot of modern communication technology. The new billion dollar industry has been able to develop without interference, in spite of the law, and with minimal public insight. The press is banned. Through a side door at the Hilton it was possible for the reporters from DN to get in and pay a visit to the world's foremost experts on surveillance and contra-espionage anyway.
ALL THE DICTATORS' MEN At ISS World's surveillance conferences there's room for all kinds of authoritarian regimes. Belarus, Vietnam, Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia. Zimbabwe. The dirt poor South-Sudan is not yet six months old and lacks many things, but has four participants here. Those not present can get the equipment through middle men and straw men. Thus the producers can deny any connection with the transaction in a plausible way, according to a former participant. Most of the sales meetings are in closed rooms. These are after all the people that have turned paranoia into a lucrative business. When the conference was established, the same year as 9/11, there was only a handful of participants at ISS World. Today the conference is held five times a year with more than 1000 participants from 50 countries. The best visited one is in Dubai, starting next week. The technological development has fuelled an explosion of supply and demand from surveillancewilling governments, not just in the Middle East. Asia and Europe as well. The number of companies that offer surveillance equipment is on the rise. Chinese traders that know the art of surveillance from the home market, are conquering new market shares. The accounts of established traders show an increased turnover. The fear of political upheaval that has spread in arabic countries, in the crisis-hit EU-countries and in the US, has led to a substantial strengthening in the surveillance area of state-security services, in dictatorships as well as in democracies. THE SURVEILLANTS FROM OMAN In a corner of the lobby area at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur, a chinese salesman has a meeting with four representatives from an arabic security service, and they don't appreciate being observed for too long. Surrounded by 10 meter tall marble columns and obsequious waiters, deep in brown leather chairs, the surveillance bosses converse lightly with the salesmen. The delegation of four police officers and surveillance bosses from the small sultanate of Oman are always accompanied by the same Chinese salesman. The Chinese in front, purposefully pointing at a document and telling what's the next topic, while the special agents are trying to keep track of admittance cards, advertising brochures, sponsored shoulder bags, smart phones and other digital gizmos, as if they were attending a festival. Here in Kuala Lumpur the surveillants of Oman are going to attend sales meetings, lectures, dinners and practical courses on how to surveil more people, faster. The program offers: How to control cloud computing, geographical localization, tapping of satellite phones, spying on social media. The arab world's second longest ruling head of state put an effective end to a starting rebellion demanding more freedom of speech and less corruption las year, helped by technology from the west. Using Skype has long since been illegal in the small country, it's also illegal to criticize the sultan. Dressed in grey, the surveillants are as anonymous as liquid glass. A german salesman contently turns his laptop towards his arabic customer and points at the screen. The technology he demonstrates is merciless. The surveilled person thinks he's talking safely on Skype because it's encrypted. In reality everything he says is being tapped – and recorded. The buyer nods. The salesmen from Kuala Lumpur have red admittance cards, the customers' are yellow. Older veterans have brought along younger computer experts who master the new technology. Some are more casually dressed and have a secretary. When they speak, the others all turn a bit more obsequious. Technology makes them almost invincible.
A GOOD PRICE, JUST FOR TUNISIA Tunisia, where the arab spring started, was for years on end a testing laboratory for the dictators' western collaborators. The Tunisian dictator Ben Ali thus had good tools when he wanted to control the opposition. -Tunisia could not afford to buy all the licenses for surveillance equipment and got it cheaper from the companies in the US and Europe. Until the revolution last year, equipment that later was sold to other countries in the Middle East was first used in Tunisia, Slim Amamou says when the reporters from DN meets him before the conference in Malaysia. The central net-activist and hacker had a decisive role during the revolution, but was surveilled and arrested. After the revolt Amamou became secretary of state in Tunisia.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.