European Union Bans Exports to Syria of Systems for Monitoring Web, Phones

The European Union barred exports of surveillance technology to Syria following reports the regime was procuring and using such gear.

“Exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring of internet and telephone communications by the Syrian regime,” are banned, the 27-nation bloc said today in a statement that included other restrictive measures.

Bloomberg News reported Nov. 4 that an Italian company, Area SpA, was building a surveillance system that would have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime the power to intercept, scan and catalog virtually every e-mail that flows through the country.

This week, a lawyer for the company, Fabio Ambrosetti, confirmed the company is exiting the deal and the project won’t be completed. He declined to comment further.

Earlier this year, Telecomix, a group of online activists, discovered that technology from a U.S. company, Blue Coat Systems Inc., was filtering web sites inside of Syria.

The United Nations said today it estimates the death toll from Assad’s crackdown on dissenters this year exceeds 4,000.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.net

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