Ethiopia: Human Rights Watch reports technology companies aid govt. surveillance of political opponents

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Article
7 August 2014

Human Rights Watch calls for more accountability to ensure technology sold to govts. is not used to abuse human rights

Author: Imogen Mathers, SciDev.Net

"View on Private Sector: Spying tech and human rights", 6 Aug 2014

...Wong [senior researcher at Human Rights Watch] says that accountability mechanisms — both international law and how firms review sales — need to be amplified to ensure commercial technology is less likely to be used to contravene human rights. When selling surveillance technology to governments, companies must focus on "...what their human rights record is like and what the foreseeable consequences of selling this particular technology are", she says...One barrier to ensuring such companies perform due diligence prior to signing sales contracts is the lack of international regulation on this kind of new technology, Wong says...[T]he UN guiding principles on business and human rights can help companies monitor the human rights impact of a potential sale. But "we think that principles alone are not enough", she adds...[A]mid growing international recognition that guiding principles not backed up by regulation or third party monitoring won't be enough, support is growing for a more binding treaty on business and human rights...

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Article
23 April 2014

Sinovatio response to Human Rights Watch report on telecom and internet surveillance in Ethiopia

Author: Sinovatio

[Unofficial translation of text from original Chinese provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]...The prerequisite for sales of Sinovatio products to foreign countries is the country’s relevant legislations or regulations on lawful interception...Sinovatio’s products are in line with established international standards, such as ETSI in Europe, FXX CALEEA standard in the Americas...Based on the two prerequisites above, we think that our products and operations do not cause any human rights abuses...Has Sinovatio ever signed any human rights protection contracts and projects in Ethiopia? Answer: No...The Ethiopian government has confirmed the use of deep packet inspection (DPI), has Sinovatio been investigated by the Ethiopian government?...Answer: Not provided by our company, and [we were] not investigated...Has the Ethiopian government or Ethio Telecom/Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) ever contracted with Sinovatio to provide lawful intercept, DPI, or other network filtering capabilities? Answer: No...

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Company response
16 April 2014

Response by Sinovatio: Sinovatio re Ethiopian Govt. use of its tech to monitor political opponents

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Article
25 March 2014

"They Know Everything We Do": Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia

Author: Human Rights Watch

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited companies named in the report to respond. Sinovatio response provided. Gamma Group, ZTE, Finfisher have not responded.] The...report details the technologies the Ethiopian government has acquired...and uses to facilitate surveillance of perceived political opponents inside the country and among the diaspora. The government’s surveillance practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, and access to information. The government’s monopoly over all mobile and Internet services...facilitates abuse of surveillance powers. [Includes statements from Hacking Team, Orange & Huawei Technologies to Human Rights Watch as annexes]

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Company non-response
25 March 2014

FinFisher (part of Gamma Group) did not respond to: Ethiopian Govt. use of their tech to monitor political opponents

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Article
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Author: Agence Ecofin (Suisse)

[Le Centre de Ressources sur les Entreprises et les Droits de l'Homme a invité les entreprises mentionnées à répondre aux allégations. Elles n'ont pas encore répondu.] L’organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) vient de publier son dernier rapport sur la violation des droits de l’Homme en Ethiopie. Intitulé « They Know Everything We Do: Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia »…le document de 100 pages décrit diverses technologies acquises par le gouvernement éthiopien…et utilisées pour faciliter la surveillance des opposants politiques présumés à l'intérieur du pays…D’après Human Rights Watch, la plupart des technologies utilisées pour surveiller l'activité des télécommunications en Éthiopie ont été fournies par le géant des télécoms chinois ZTE, qui collabore avec le pays depuis 2000…Le rapport…dévoile aussi que plusieurs entreprises européennes [comme Gamma International et Hacking Team] ont également fourni une technologie de surveillance de pointe à l’Éthiopie…

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Article
25 March 2014

[PDF] "They Know Everything We Do": Telecom and Internet Surveillance in Ethiopia

Author: Human Rights Watch

Information gleaned from telecom and Internet sources is regularly used against Ethiopians arrested for alleged anti-government activities. During interrogations, police show suspects lists of phone calls and are questioned about the identity of callers, particularly foreign callers. They play recorded phone conversations with friends and family members. The information is routinely obtained without judicial warrants. While this electronic “evidence” appears to be used mostly to compel suspects to confess or to provide information, some recorded emails and phone calls have been submitted as evidence in trials under the repressive Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

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