A Canadian human rights group unveiled research [NYT report] Tuesday indicating that a number of nations are using American-made Internet surveillance technology which could be used to censor content and track their citizens. The group, Citizen Lab [advocacy website], published its report [text, PDF] entitled "Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools," which found that technology that can be used to track network users and censor offending content is being actively used on government or public networks and identified "11 ProxySG and 50 PacketShaper devices on public or government networks in countries with a history of concerns over human rights, surveillance, and censorship." ProxySG and PacketShaper are network technologies manufactured by Blue Coat [corporate website] which could be used for censorship or surveillance. According to the author of the report, the findings indicate a need for:
[N]ational and international scrutiny of Blue Coat implementations in the countries we have identified, and a closer look at the global proliferation of "dual-use" information and communication technologies. Internet service providers responsible for these deployments should consider publicly clarifying their function, and we hope Blue Coat will take this report as an opportunity to explain their due diligence process to ensure that their devices are not used in ways that violate human rights.Citizen Lab also released an interactive map [materials] which details the types of devices discovered each nation.
Internet freedom remains a controversial issue around the world. The UN Human Rights Council in July passed its first-ever resolution to protect the free speech [JURIST report] of individuals online. The resolution was approved by all 47 members of the council, including China and Cuba, which have been criticized for limiting Internet freedom. Last month China adopted stricter rules [JURIST report] on both internet providers and users. Last November Russia passed a law [JURIST report] giving the nation the authority to completely block access to certain websites. Last July the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] intended to protect Internet speech.