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U.S. Web-Blocking Devices Used By Syrian Government

By - Source: Wall Street Journal | B 15 comments

Originally intended for use in Dubai, their use may violate trade sanctions against Syria.

Sunnyvale, CA-based Blue Coat Systems, makers of Internet-blocking devices used by governments and law enforcement agencies around the world to stifle both criminal activity and dissent, are contending with a potential PR nightmare resulting from the admission that 13 of their devices have shown up in Syria. The devices were reportedly used by the Syrian government to block Internet activity as part of their ongoing crackdown on popular protest movements associated with the larger Arab Spring. The devices were originally sold to the government of Dubai, intended, Blue Coat Systems insists, for eventual use in Iraq.

The devices were detected when automatic status messages were sent to Blue Coat Systems as the Syrian Government used them to censor activity on the Syrian Internet. Though research by the Wall Street Journal confirms that other Blue Coat Systems devices are in use in Syria, possibly indicating deliberate trade sanction violations, Blue Coat Systems is reportedly cooperating fully with an American government investigation. In addition to the 13 devices that have been detected, a 14th remains unaccounted for, and since the late 90s, a reported 25 total such devices have made their way into Syria through Dubai-based facilitators. The means by which these devices were transferred from a nation currently enjoying U.S. support in their crackdown of popular dissent, to one that does not, remains unknown.

Blue Coat senior VP Steve Daheb said "We don't want our products to be used by the government of Syria or any other country embargoed by the United States," indicating, at least in theory, the company's commitment to only assist in stifling dissent in compliance with US and International law.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    gokanis , November 1, 2011 8:42 PM
    Nobody wants your products used anywhere there should be freedom of speech and thought, oh wait, money.....
  • 12 Hide
    spentshells , November 1, 2011 8:31 PM
    The very last paragraph is increadibly funny. Clowns
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    zoemayne , November 1, 2011 8:28 PM
    cisco stuff is prob being used too
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 12 Hide
    spentshells , November 1, 2011 8:31 PM
    The very last paragraph is increadibly funny. Clowns
  • 12 Hide
    gokanis , November 1, 2011 8:42 PM
    Nobody wants your products used anywhere there should be freedom of speech and thought, oh wait, money.....
  • 9 Hide
    house70 , November 1, 2011 9:13 PM
    I guess they were OK to be used in the so-called democracy in Dubai, because the regime there is our ally... which can not be said for the Syrian regime.
    Hypocrite two-faced double-standard policies...
  • 7 Hide
    brothermist , November 1, 2011 9:52 PM
    -these comments scheduled to be removed due to not being conducive to US political/corporate agenda-
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , November 1, 2011 10:05 PM
    I'd rather live in Syria than Saudi Arabia.
  • 1 Hide
    memadmax , November 1, 2011 10:13 PM
    We really need to come up with a way to not be constrained by a single IP system. A few auxillary network protocols so to speak. That way if one gets clamped down you just switch to another, force them to physically break the network wires......
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 1, 2011 10:22 PM
    So.............?
    USSR Titanium was used to built spy planes by the Americans to Spy on the soviets.......
    Nato Firearms were used against the Americans by the Iraqis in both Gulf wars....
    American Troops using AK-47s instead of their M16s to kill Vietnamese in the Vietnam war....
    and U.S Military arms are used by the drugs gangs in Mexico to counter the mexican army and police who also receive american guns and military equipment to fight the drugs gangs...nice bussines...
  • 4 Hide
    eddieroolz , November 1, 2011 10:36 PM
    The Middle East in general is a shady place for these sorts of transactions.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 2, 2011 3:29 AM
    'for eventual use in Iraq'
    that tells u something doesnt it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 2, 2011 3:41 AM
    US and international law should prohibit the sale and use of such devices in all countries.
  • 3 Hide
    onanonanon , November 2, 2011 9:54 AM
    An interesting article but a week late:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15437696
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , November 2, 2011 12:26 PM
    onanonanonAn interesting article but a week late:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15437696


    BBC covers a lot of tech articles waaaaay sooner than Tom's, unfortunately...
  • 0 Hide
    maigo , November 2, 2011 2:19 PM
    They selll a box that turns off the internet and are pissed that someone used it? WTF?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 2, 2011 8:00 PM
    Three words: remote kill switch. If they are getting status messages, you know they have a back door to throw a switch and let all the info pass through. Probably coordinating with US authorities to plan the perfect time to do it.