Global Surveillance Industry Database Helps Track Big Brother Worldwide

From Common Dreams:

“Without instruments capable of restricting transfers and shining a light on the companies and the trade, surveillance technologies developed in and traded from the West will further undermine privacy and facilitate other abuses,” says report. (Photo: Alan Levine/flickr/cc)

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:

The 528 surveillance companies in the SII are overwhelmingly based in economically advanced, large arms exporting states, with the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and …

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