US company may have helped Egypt spy on citizens

An American company has allegedly been assisting the Egyptian government in its efforts to monitor e-mail, Twitter and Facebook messages, the advocacy group Free Press said in a press statement.

According to Free Press Campaign Director Timothy Karr, Narus – owned by Boeing – has Telecom Egypt as one of its customers. Karr’s organization says that it has been employing Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) in order to give the Egyptian government the ability to eavesdrop on communications and track mobile phone users through GPS coordinates and SMS messaging.

Using DPI, it’s possible to reconstruct emails and attachments, see what web pages a user has clicked on and reconstruct voice-over-IP phone calls.

“What we are seeing in Egypt is a frightening example of how the power of technology can be abused,” says Free Press campaign director Timothy Karr.

“Commercial operators trafficking in Deep Packet Inspection technology to violate internet users’ privacy is bad enough; in government hands, that same invasion of privacy can quickly lead to stark human rights violations.”

Narus’ NarusInsight system is used by the US National Security Agency for surveillance of internet communications. And Free Press is calling for the US Congress to establish transparent standards for the use of DPI technology in order to preserve human rights.

“The harm to democracy and the power to control the internet are so disturbing that the threshold for the global trafficking in DPI must be set very high,” says Karr.

By Joseph Mayton