US and European companies have been selling surveillance gear to repressive regimes even when the sanctions are in place. According to reports in mainstream media and popular blogs, US companies and even the ones, which are UK based, have provided authoritarian regimes with key technology for surveillance. It appears very odd that champion of democracy have companies based out of their land indirectly helping suppressive governments in other parts of the world.
European Union has imposed a series of sanctions against Syria since May and US has banned all kinds of exports to Syria except food and medicines. These supplying of surveillance gear did not initially violate laws as far as the sanctions are concerned but now both EU and US government have taken steps to prevent companies from doing so.
In Syria, hacktivists mainly Telecomix group found US companies like Blue Coat and HP’s gear being used by Syrian regime to track internet usage of the people. These hacktivists hacked into popular websites to let the people know that they were being tracked.
Interestingly most of these companies claim no knowledge of their products being sold to repressive regimes but hacktivists counter-claim that this can’t be true as such gear requires after-sales support to a great extent, which not the dealers but the company itself provides.