Belarus: Sandvine supplied technology used by the govt. to shut down internet & repress protests; company cancels contract
Following news that the results of the 9 August 2020 presidential election in Belarus might have been fradulent, various evidence shows that the authorities deliberately cut access to the Internet. The public was blocked from accessing social media websites, messaging apps, and international news websites for several days. In the same period and subsequently, reports have documented extreme police violence and detentions of peaceful protesters.
On 28 August, Bloomberg news reported that Canadian company Sandvine, owned by US private equity firm Francisco Parners, had supplied Belarus with the deep packet inspection (DPI) technology that was likely used to implement the shutdowns. The news prompted criticism from US Senators, Human Rights organisations, and Belarussians living in the US, among others. The company released a statement on 15 September saying its own investigation has found that "custom code was developed and inserted into Sandvine’s products to thwart the free flow of information during the Belarus election. This is a human rights violation and it has triggered the automatic termination of our end user license agreement."
Sandvine said this action means it will no longer provide software updates and technical assistance for its equipment being used by the state-controlled National Traffic Exchange Center, which manages all internet data flowing in and out of the country, but that the equipment will still be usable in the short term.