Offering a groundbreaking glimpse of the global surveillance industry—the tools it employs, the extent of its reach, and the accountability it largely evades—human rights watchdog organization Privacy International on Tuesday released a searchable database and accompanying report that track Big Brother worldwide.
The initiative “provides much needed information about a secretive industry which has grown to meet government demand for more surveillance power,” said Edin Omanovic, research officer at the U.K.-based Privacy International. “State surveillance is one of the most important and polarizing issues of our time, yet the secrecy around it means it’s a debate lacking reliable facts.”
The Surveillance Industry Index (SII), based on data collected by journalists, activists, and researchers across the world and co-developed with the pro-transparency software group Transparency Toolkit, aims to change that.
The database is completely searchable, featuring over 1,500 brochures and data on over 520 surveillance companies as well as over 600 reported individual exports of specific surveillance technologies, according to a press statement from Privacy International.
“By collecting a variety of documents and datasets about the surveillance industry into a single, comprehensive archive, the Surveillance Industry Index offers one of the most complete overviews of surveillance tech being sold around the world,” said M.C. McGrath of Transparency Toolkit, who added that the SII “enables people to rapidly filter, find, and understand the surveillance technologies likely to effect their lives and work.”
Another point of interest, according to Privacy International:
International Business Times highlighted four particularly concerning technologies exposed in the database, including GR Sistemi’s Dark Eagle, from Italy—”an intrusion technology targeting devices that switches on the camera and microphone, as well as logging all the key strokes a user makes on their device,” IBT explains—as well as the tracking tool called Skylock, made by Verint, a U.S. and Israeli company.
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