Thursday, June 15, 2017

BAE collaborates in torture

In unsurprising news, a British arms company is helping repressive Middle Eastern dictatorships spy on their citizens:

BAE, Britain’s biggest arms company, secretly sold mass surveillance technology to six Middle Eastern governments that have been criticised for repressing their citizens, the BBC has reported.

The sophisticated technology can be used to spy on a huge number of people’s emails and mobile phones, triggering accusations from human rights campaigners that it is being used to silence or jail dissidents.

According to documents obtained by the BBC, the equipment has been sold in recent years to the governments of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Morocco.

The documents also reveal official concerns that the export of the technology could backfire and imperil the security of Britain and its allies, the BBC said.

The latter is about the spyware's targeting and decryption capabilities, which could be used to spy on the UK government. UK officials apparently would have refused an export permit - but they were never asked.

But the real problem here is that a UK company is selling spyware to oppressive governments, which enables (and is used for) them to round up, detain and torture opponents of the regime. This is no different from selling those regimes hot irons, cattle prods, and electric drills. BAE is actively enabling and collaborating in foreign torture. And its executives need to be held criminally accountable for it.