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Europe's spying businesses thrive amid surveillance uproar - FT.com

Europe's spying businesses thrive amid surveillance uproar - FT.com
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d1b47a24-e232-11e2-a7fa-00144feabdc0.html

Europe's politicians are outraged about alleged US monitoring of EU telephone and computer communications. But when it comes to building and exporting spy equipment, few are as capable as Europe.

That much was evident last month when the world's leading sellers of electronic surveillance technology gathered in Prague at the ISS World trade show.

Police and spy agency officials listened to closed-door presentations by a succession of European companies about their highly sophisticated internet and telephone communication interception wares.

(...)

The US has by far the biggest national budget for surveillance technology but it tends to buy large bespoke surveillance systems from big US contractors. US tech start-ups often receive NSA/CIA funding and are therefore discouraged from selling overseas, says Jerry Lucas, organiser of the Prague trade show.

This means that more than 50 per cent of the almost $6bn a year market for off-the-shelf surveillance equipment – the kind favoured by nearly all governments except the US – is controlled by western European companies, according to Mr Lucas.

(...)

... few European politicians appear to have recognised that the continent's prolific export of surveillance technology also poses a direct threat to the continent's security.

In fact, it was James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, who told the US Senate in March that foreign governments had begun using surveillance technologies originally marketed for “lawful interception” to target US systems.

Christopher Soghoian, a security and privacy researcher at the American Civil Liberties Union, concludes: “It seems strange to turn a blind eye to selling hacking technology when European governments are at the same time investing in cyber security defence.

“The government claims to be protecting civilians' data and domestic businesses from foreign attack. But at the exact same time this industry is in direct conflict with that goal.”

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