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3 Sep 2020

Natalia Krapiva & Peter Micek, Access Now

Francisco Partners-owned Sandvine profits from shutdowns and oppression in Belarus

On the night of August 9, 2020, as news started to come in that the Belarus election results might have been fraudulent, citizen reports and technical evidence showed that authorities were deliberately cutting access to the internet... The shutdowns were also followed by extreme police violence and detentions of peaceful protesters. What we are learning now is that private, multinational companies played a direct role in enabling this censorship... Most recently, it was reported that the DPI [Deep Packet Inspection] equipment was produced by the Canadian company Sandvine, owned by infamous U.S. private equity firm Francisco Partners...

... DPI is a method of monitoring and filtering internet traffic through inspecting the contents of each packet that is transmitted through an inspection point, allowing for filtering out malware and unwanted traffic, but also real-time monitoring of communications, as well as implementation of targeted blockings and shutdowns. Thus, DPI technology enables both invasive privacy breaches and mass censorship.

... Businesses have a duty to respect human rights, and governments to protect people from abuses by companies in their jurisdiction. In the face of repeated abuses by both Sandvine and its owners Francisco Partners, we believe the authorities should withdraw its licenses to export products and subject the firms to deep legal scrutiny.