Spying Software Company Investigated for Aiding Qaddafi
A judicial inquiry into a French company that sold spy software to Libya's Muammar Qaddafi could mean tech companies in the future will be held responsible for supplying human rights violators, Slate reported. Meanwhile, the French website Reflets claims similar monitoring systems, made by the same company, are in use in France and have been sold to Morocco and Qatar.
Qaddafi used software written and installed by Amesys, a unit of Bull, to read the emails, instant messenger conversations and social media posts of activists, politicians and journalists, the Wall Street Journal discovered in 2011. The Amesys system even helped Qaddafi spy on people in the U.K., AFP reported. The new Amesys investigation will decide how much responsibility the company holds for "helping to facilitate the torture of dissidents," Slate reported.
In the past, Amesys and other Western companies that sell monitoring and censorship software have said they aren't responsible for how their software is used. Amesys cooperated with Qaddafi in 2007, when the now-dead dictator was considered a Western ally. Yet the company should have known what it was doing because of Libya's history of human rights abuses, argues the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet freedom activist group. The foundation advocates a "know your customer" program for technology companies that sell to governments.