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Meet the U.S. Companies Helping Censor the Arab Web

Author: John Hudson, Atlantic Wire [USA], Published on: 28 March 2011

While the U.S. State Department spends millions of dollars helping people in the Middle East circumvent Web censorship, a handful of California companies are providing autocratic Middle East regimes with the technology to censor the Web, reports The Wall Street Journal...U.S. companies are competing abroad to deliver web-blocking technologies to, in some cases, stridently repressive regime... McAfee...[part of Intel] has sold content-filtering software to Internet-service providers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, reports the Journal. The company['s]...SmartFilter...can block a range of web content deemed politically or "religiously offensive."... Blue Coat Systems...has provided web-blocking technology and hardware in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar says the Journal... Palo Alto Networks...provides even more comprehensive web blocking technology than McAfee... Websense...first discovered that Yemen was using its technology to dismantle privacy tools of web surfers two years ago. Publicly, the company said those companies violated its anticensorship policy and it would stop giving the offenders its "website-block lists." However, those Websense tools were still being used in Yemen as recently as August. In their defense, the companies say they can't be held responsible for how customers use their product. "Obviously what an individual customer would do with a product once they acquire it is beyond our control," said a Blue Coat spokesperson.

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Related companies: Blue Coat Etisalat Intel McAfee (part of Intel) Secure Computing (part of McAfee) Tata Group Websense