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Human rights advocacy group Privacy International has accused Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia Networks and controversial Italian cybersecurity firm Hacking Team of secretly selling surveillance equipment to the Egyptian government so it could spy on Egyptian dissidents.
According to a new report entitled The President’s Men?, Nokia Networks, when it was previously in a joint venture with Siemens as Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), sold surveillance equipment to the General Intelligence Service (GIS), one of three national intelligence agencies in Egypt.
The report points to the existence of a top-secret Technical Research Department (TRD) that sits within the GIS headquarters in Cairo. This department is in charge of surveillance operations and has been purchasing more equipment over the years, even throughout the Egyptian revolution, with the intent of spying on all who oppose the government.
Privacy International says that its purpose in writing the report is to point out the existence of the TRD and to encourage European Union lawmakers to prevent the export of monitoring technology to countries like Egypt.
In 2009, NSN was reported as having been supplying Iran with sophisticated technology to help control and censor the internet. Shortly after this incident, NSN sold the Siemens Intelligence Solutions arm to a private investment firm in Munich, Germany.
Responding to Privacy International’s report, Nokia claims that it “condemns the allegations made about the company in the report,” stating that “Nokia actively takes steps to ensure that the technology we provide – legally and in good faith – will be used properly and lawfully. We were the first telecommunications vendor to define and to implement a human rights due diligence process to mitigate the potential risk of product misuse.”