UK sued for selling snooping tech to 'rogue states'

The UK government is in hot water with Privacy International which is suing it for selling surveillance technology to Syria, Iran and Egypt.

The privacy watchdog said that the UK government allowed surveillance technology to be exported to repressive foreign regimes.

For a while now privacy groups have been wondering how Iran had been getting its paws on some natty software to spy on its citizens. The body claimed last year that Creativity Software had been selling a location-tracking system to Iran.

Then there were reports that Gamma International was selling “FinSpy” technology to the now-fallen Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak. That technology was used by the regime to hack into citizens’ email accounts, or even take full control of their computers.

Privacy International has penned a letter to Vince Cable, secretary of state for business innovation and skills, asking the government to change the rules which allow such technology to be easily exported.

The watchdog barked that the controls have not kept pace with the way the market and the technology have shifted.

Privacy International is concerned that the FinFisher range of products and other surveillance equipment has legitimate uses where export controls are unnecessary.

Apparently the government has two weeks to take action and update the list of products that need to be checked before export or Privacy International will file for judicial review and, if appropriate, seek an injunction.

According to ZDNet, a Privacy International spokesperson said the body fully expects to go to court, as it is unlikely the government will take action.