Salespeople for AREA, IPS and Semptian filmed saying they would sell spyware to agents who they knew might sell it onward to repressive govts. in Syria, Iran & South Sudan
Exclusive: Spyware firms in breach of global sanctions, 10 April 2017
Spy equipment producers are breaking laws and circumventing international sanctions by agreeing to sell stock to countries known for human rights abuses, and to clients who do not declare the end user – meaning surveillance tools could easily fall into the hands of armed groups, corporations, governments cracking down on dissent, or opposition leaders, an exclusive investigation by Al Jazeera reveals. During "Spy Merchants", a four-month undercover operation, Al Jazeera secretly filmed representatives of two Italian companies and one Chinese business agreeing to sell spyware that is capable of tracking millions of people online and able to intercept phone calls and text messages without anyone finding out. The vendors boasted of being able to side-step the law by using sister and shell companies and explained how to possibly circumvent export regulations by lying about the details of shipments and using third countries exempted from certain rules as stopping places…The two Italian companies, IPS and AREA, indicated that they were open to the possibility of violating European laws to sell equipment that would end up in the hands of Iranian and South Sudanese clients, where they could potentially be used to spy on citizens ... China-based business Semptian, meanwhile, was ready to sell spying gear worth nearly $3 million without knowing who the recipient would be ... In response to these allegations, IPS told Al Jazeera that they operate with full respect of the regulations. They added: "We had no intention of completing this or any deal with the individual our staff met with. Any deal that we may have discussed with him would have to be dependent on obtaining the full legal authorisation from the authorities." ... AREA said it "works with the relevant governments to ensure the proper export and legal use of our equipment."
[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited AREA, IPS and Semptian to respond. They have not done so yet.]