Blue Coat Systems
Subsidiary of Symantec.
The French investigative publication Reflets has discovered that the American company Blue Coat is currently providing the government of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad and that of the Islamic Republic of Iran with software to filter and spy on their countries’ Internet activities in contravention of U.S. law. (Daily Dot, "U.S. company allegedly caught aiding Syria and Iran in censorship efforts," 12/11/2015).
"Although Blue Coat tools have been identified in Syria in the past, the new research indicates that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has more of the monitoring devices than previously known... Experts say that in Syria, Blue Coat’s tools have been used to censor Web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents, activists and journalists. In Iran and Sudan, it remains unclear exactly how the technologies are being used, but experts say the tools could empower repressive governments to spy on opponents... Blue Coat promotes itself as a leading provider of Web security and management. According to its Web site, it has 15,000 government and corporate customers worldwide... Some technology experts, however, have argued that because Blue Coat’s tools have various uses, they fall into regulatory gaps and are thus not subject to certain export restrictions. 'The only thing stopping the export of human-rights-abusing equipment to a country like Sudan is the blanket restriction on exports under the sanctions program,' said Collin Anderson, an independent consultant on the Blue Coat report, which is to be released Tuesday. 'There are no controls in place right now on equipment that can also be used to violate human rights.' David Murphy, Blue Coat’s chief operating officer and president, said the company takes reports about its products in countries under U.S. trade embargoes very seriously. The firm, he noted, is cooperating with a U.S. investigation into how a reseller managed to get the devices into Syria on a few occasions in 2010 and 2011... Blue Coat has attracted particular scrutiny from the Citizen Lab, whose latest report marks the third time it has found the firm’s technology in countries with governments linked to human rights abuses. In its investigation, the Citizen Lab focused on two Blue Coat devices: ProxySG and PacketShaper. The tools can be used for Web filtering and traffic analysis and can help users view certain types of encrypted traffic, capabilities that are useful both to network security technicians and spy agencies... Blue Coat’s filtering tools were first discovered in Syria in 2011 by a 'hacktivist' group, prompting a Commerce Department probe and, in April, a $2.8 million civil fine for one of the firm’s distributors in Dubai... In a statement to The Post, Blue Coat said, 'Even when our products are unlawfully diverted to embargoed countries without our knowledge, we use various techniques to limit our products from receiving updates or support from our servers or support personnel.' Researchers said that blocking ability suggests the company can identify the location of its tools; Blue Coat declined to comment... The Citizen Lab said it detected the presence of Blue Coat’s devices on several networks, including one belonging to the Information Technology Co., which is partially owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The elite unit is believed to be heavily involved in Iran’s censorship of the Internet. In Sudan, the Citizen Lab identified the Blue Coat devices on the networks of commercial Internet service provider Canar Telecom... The Citizen Lab said it has found Blue Coat devices in at least a dozen other countries that have poor human rights records, although those countries are not necessarily subject to U.S. sanctions... Blue Coat, the latest report noted, showed an ability 'to turn principles into practice' this year when it removed the 'lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender' category from its Web filter after civil-society groups raised concerns over the discriminatory nature of such a category and its use by the Defense Department and other institutions" (Washington Post, "Web Monitoring Devices Made by U.S. Firm Blue Coat Detected in Iran, Sudan," 07/08/2013)