Politic repression against the population in Syria: three american companies accused of having provided the Damascus regime tools for wiretapping and monitoring of dissidents

November 28, 2011 Technology No Commenti
syria protest

United States of America are not only exporting democracy, but also controlling tools sold directly to ‘rogue governments’ and schemes. Of course this practice is not new, but lately it has become a little awkward in the Obama administration.

The U.S. Commerce Department is seeking whether the technology produced by a Californian company, has been able to help the Syrian Police to map and monitor dissidents by bugs. Revolts have been followed by a violent and bloody repression that led to the death of thousands of unarmed civilians.

Trade officials are trying to know if Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., was aware that its equipment and its software could be used by the Syrian government.

The company has already clearly expressed that it did not sell tools or spy software to the Syrian government, but it is aware that its products are used, however in Syria and maybe the regime got them through a third party. The U.S. sanctions imposed on Syria prohibit the tradings of most of the categories and the investigators are trying to determine who gave the Blue Coat technology to Syria.

Here is a declaration from the company, dating back to this month: “Blue Coat is aware of the violence in Syria, and is really sad because of the suffering and loss of human lives that could be the result of actions made by a repressive regime. We do not want our products to be used by the government of Syria or any other country embargoed by the United States.”

According to statements of the company, Blue Coat technology is not designed for surveillance purposes, but it has features that could help the authorities to monitor electronic communications, even allowing to block selected people access to certain websites and certain forms of social media.

Few days ago, in U.S. Parliament, three senators asked the Obama administration to see if Blue Coat and another California company, HP, have been provided with “instruments of repression”  Damascus.

“If the sale of US-made technology devices may have contributed to the ongoing violence, it is unacceptable and a solution should be investigated as soon as possible.”
If the Commerce Department found out that Blue Coat has clearly violated the license, U.S. could make the company pay a fine up to $ 1 million.

U.S. companies wishing to export devices that are “primarily used for hidden interception of oral or electronic communications cable” must contact the Department of Commerce for a license, according to current regulations regarding export. However, sales by U.S. companies in Syria are illegal, starting from the sanctions imposed by President George W. Bush, in 2004.

There’s more. During a Congress audition that took place on November 9, the Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman, said that the Blue Coat technology used in Syria, no export license had been granted.

In addition to Blue Coat, there is also Hewlett-Packard (HP), which has installed more than $ 500,000 of equipment in computer rooms located in Syria. These electronic brains are the basis of a surveillance system being built, able to monitor the use of e-mail and Internet in the country. The operational base of HP is therefore a control center for Syrian officials in Damascus, with whom they could keep track of citizens’ communications and track datas, models and personal contacts. An Italian company, Area SpA, is in charge of running the project.

“HP’s policy is to comply with all applicable export control laws and regulations of the United States,” the company said in a declaration. “We have no employees or facilities in Syria, and our sales in this country have been limited to groups that are recognized by U.S. law. Compliance with the United States and the laws of international trade are the highest priority for HP. “

BiKN and your Apple iPhone become a powerful device to find lost objects and even people

November 22, 2011 Technology No Commenti
localizzatore per iphone

When we talk about Apple’s mobile devices, namely the iPhone, we know that we can find a huge variety of gadgets and cases to protect it and keep it safe. We also know that there is a software to locate your phone via GPS in the unlucky event of theft or loss. Perhaps we did not know that engineers from Treehouse Lab have designed an interesting way to keep track of everything: phone, keys, wallets.

We are speaking about an innovative system, designed specifically for those who often lose things around, either because they are careless, or because they are running into a busy life, full of unexpected events.

The new system is called BiKN, a term that is pronounced as “beacon”: just as a light it acts illuminating your life, helping you to regain everything lost (if it bears the rught tag).

But let’s step back and focus on the system, thet consists of a special case for the iPhone keeping inside a receiver that interacts with a tracking tag. On your phone, a special iOS application manages the operations, allowing you to locate up to 8 cards simultaneously. All you have to do is to stuck ‘tags’ on items that you often lose.

Your bag, key ring, camera, wallet or even your dog (putting the special ‘tag’ on the collar). But the most interestingthing regards the possibility to set a maximum distance for each item, after which an alarm on the BiKN iPhone case. In this way, busy parents shoppingin the mall will not have to worry too much when they leave their children in the playground area.

User interface is clear and intuitive. “Find” mode includes an audio and video signal meter that helps you find everything that has been lost, every item that has gone out of place. The “Leash” function activates control within exact spatial boundaries. “Page” mode will sound an alert on one or more active tags (or other devices compatible with smart BiKN), becoming very useful for  families or groups.

The special BiKN clips are designed to be easily stuck to any object, a belt, a keychain, a pocket of a jacket. Each tag is equipped with a plug that opens and reveals a micro-USB port, letting users to set and synchronize via the BiKN iPhone case every single clip. in a mall.

Once purchased the case, the USB tag can be bought with an extra charge and they have to be charged through a computer. All equipment is useful and very practical and it will be available in 2012 for Apple iPhone 4 and 4S. There is still no information about the price.

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