"Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries
It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry. Working with Bugged Planet and Privacy International, as well as media organizations form six countries – ARD in Germany, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, The Hindu in India, L’Espresso in Italy, OWNI in France and the Washington Post in the U.S. Wikileaks is shining a light on this secret industry that has boomed since September 11, 2001 and is worth billions of dollars per year. WikiLeaks has released 287 documents today, but the Spy Files project is ongoing and further information will be released this week and into next year.
International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.
But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.
When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya this year, they uncovered listening rooms where devices from Gamma corporation of the UK, Amesys of France, VASTech of South Africa and ZTE Corp of China monitored their every move online and on the phone."
The article mentions New Zealand company Endace, with the quote "[...] 'Why sample, when you can monitor all network traffic inexpensively?' trumpets a brochure from Endace, a company based in New Zealand."
Conspiracy theorists will not get much to support claims of Endace being a participant of any specific surveillance program. The "leaked documents" are just some old commercial presentations, with no direct evidence of the company involvement in any specific government sanctioned activity.
Endace develops systems that allow continuous high speed packet capture. In December 2010 Endace announced a NZ$6.7 million "technology grant" by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, now Ministry of Science and Innovation. Recently (April 2011) the company launched a new range of Network Monitoring System for government agencies.
The company offers solutions for different verticals, including government:
"Where national security is concerned, there can be no compromise. Guaranteed, continuous 100% packet capture is just the tip of the requirements iceberg. The challenges faced by these teams are extensive, which is why over the last 10 years many of them have turned to Endace for help and assistance."