Commentary Magazine


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Beware Selling Surveillance Systems

This Wall Street Journal article about how a French company called Amesys sold Muammar Qaddafi surveillance equipment that enabled him to monitor the emails of dissidents should be required reading in Silicon Valley. Amesys’s role has come out now that Qaddafi has been overthrown. There is no indication that the company did anything illegal, but the immorality of helping a dictator to repress dissidents should be obvious.

That lesson should be taken to heart by companies such as Cisco, which are helping the People’s Republic of China to erect a giant electronic surveillance system. Such projects may be perfectly innocuous when built in liberal democracies such as Britain or the U.S. They take on a more sinister mien in a dictatorship like China or Qaddafi’s Libya. If only more high-tech companies had the guts of Google which has pulled out of China rather than submit to communist censorship.