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Egypt: US blacklists Canada’s Sandvine for technology targeting activists


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Egypt: US blacklists Canada’s Sandvine for technology targeting activists

Sandvine’s devices have been used in blocking human rights websites in Egypt and injecting spyware into the phone of an opposition politician

Sondos Shalaby

Egyptian politician Ahmed al-Tantawi at his office in Cairo on 12 October 2023. Tantawi’s phone was hacked several times last year by technology linked to Sandvine, according to CitizenLab (Ahmed Hasan/AFP)

The US Department of Commerce on Monday added Canada-based networking equipment company Sandvine Inc. to an export blacklist over allegations it supplied technology used for censorship and targeting human rights actors in Egypt.

According to a decision by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Sandvine has been added to the “Entity List” for supplying Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to the Egyptian government. 

The technology, according to the notice, “is used in mass web-monitoring and censorship to block news as well as target political actors and human rights activists”. 

“These activities are contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States,” the notice added. 

DPI technology is used in mass monitoring and management of online traffic. 

An investigation by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab in 2018 found that Sandvine’s DPI devices were being used to block human rights related to online content in Egypt. The websites targeted included Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Al Jazeera, and Mada Masr. 

Citizen Lab also revealed last year that Sandvine’s technology was used to inject spyware in the phone of Egyptian opposition politician Ahmed Tantawi, after he announced his intention to run for president. 

Commenting on the decision, US Under Secretary for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said his government “will not hesitate to act to ensure that powerful, commercially available technologies aren’t being used contrary to our values, which include standing against censorship, surveillance and repression.”

“We also won’t stand by as entities seek to provide items to Entity Listed parties and will act accordingly,” he added.

Middle East Eye has contacted Sandvine for comment on the allegations, but has not received a response by the time of publication. 

Founded in Canada, Sandvine was acquired by Francisco Partners in San Francisco and combined with Procera Networks in 2017, according to Bloomberg.

    US blacklists Canada’s Sandvine for technology targeting Egyptian activists

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