Blue Coat has refuted claims it sold its traffic monitoring products to countries embargoed by the US.
In a statement to SC, the company said it took
could not comment on a new report around the use of its technologies in embargoed countries, but would review it. It said: “When we become aware of such allegations, we review the source information to determine whether it provides new information about the presence of our products in embargoed countries.”
The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab questioned in a paper (Some Devices Wander by Mistake: Planet Blue Coat Redux) the vendor's distribution of products containing web monitoring capabilities.
It claimed that the technologies were used in countries with a track record of targeting journalists and dissidents with surveillance technologies.
It also claimed that the ProxySG and PacketShaper products were detected on public networks in 83 countries, including Iran, Syria and Sudan.
In 2011, Blue Coat became the subject of controversy after it was discovered that its products were being used by the Syrian government to censor and monitor web activity during a violent crackdown against dissidents.
After an investigation, the US Commerce Department fined a third-party distributor of Blue Coats' products, Dubai-based Computerlinks FZCO, $2.8 million for diverting devices to Syria.
Citizen Lab project leader Morgan Marquis-Boire told SC the concerns surrounding the sale of dual-use technology by Blue Coat are "demonstrative of a systematic problem".
While Blue Coat is by no means the only company that has ever had these types of accusations launched against them, “Companies should fervently investigate and know customers before and during a sale of their surveillance products,” he said.
Blue Coat confirmed that it had been actively cooperating with the US government since 2011 as part of its investigation into the illegal transfer of its products to Syria by third parties.
It said: “In the meantime, we want to clarify that Blue Coat has never permitted the sale of our products to countries embargoed by the US. We continue not to sell to embargoed countries and also do not allow our partners to sell our products to embargoed countries.
“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.”
It went on to say that it fully supports US embargoes against sanctioned countries, respects and supports human rights and it does not design its products, or condone their use, to suppress human rights.
“We design and sell business assurance technology solutions that make it possible for enterprises to safely and quickly choose the best applications, services, devices, data sources, and content the world has to offer. Our products are not intended for surveillance purposes,” it concluded.