Security Made in Germany

BERLIN/DUBAI/RIYADH | | iranvaeaegypten

BERLIN/DUBAI/RIYADH (Own report) - In spite of the ongoing protests in the Arab countries, German companies are continuing to furnish repressive technology to regimes of the region. At a fair in Dubai, oriented toward Middle Eastern and African police forces and secret services, several German companies have displayed their newest technology in internet surveillance. Products for localizing mobile telephones, as well as spying on computer hard disks were also being presented. German enterprises consider the export of so-called security technology to be a rather lucrative business. The German ministry of economics estimates the global security market to run at around 100 billion Euros per year - and rising. Since November 2010, the ministry has been supporting the German repression industry with a new "exports initiative in security technologies". Just last January, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics, Hans-Joachim Otto, visited the United Arab Emirates for talks on security plans. Some of the German export projects to Arab countries, including a proposal to deliver espionage software to the Egyptian domestic espionage service, have caused controversy.

Surveillance of the Internet

The novelties placed on display by German enterprises at Dubai's "ISS World Middle East and Africa (ISS World MEA) Security Fair in late February, included various "Deep Packet Inspection" products. As was explained in the report on the event, "Deep Packet Inspection" is aimed at "filtering and categorizing all internet traffic." "In combination with a national firewall" it permits "the control of all communication in a nationwide network" including internet telephony. At the same time, data transmissions, for example via Skype, could be "identified and blocked".[1] In Dubai, the means for accomplishing this sort of internet surveillance was put on display by the companies Ipoque (Liepzig), trovicor (Munich), Utimaco (Oberursel) and ATIS systems (Bad Homburg). Ipoque carried out its own "training seminar" at the fair. Also reported, is that ATIS systems demonstrated a software that "can monitor web sessions in full" with the "inclusion of spatial information from the mobile radio system", facilitating, for example, the "'accurate tracking' (for monitoring of individuals)."[2] Several of those companies named, maintain branch offices in Arab countries - e.g. in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and in Egypt.

Email Intrusion

An Egyptian example shows the possible application of German surveillance techniques. Activists of the Egyptian Democracy Movement, who recently broke into the headquarters of Cairo's domestic secret service, found a document classified "top secret", containing a delivery proposal from the German enterprise Gamma International. Attached to the proposal was a note from the secret service's "technology and information" section saying that Gamma is specialized in "security programs and technology for intruding into electronic mailboxes." A test version of the "Finfisher" program, which shows the "multiple possibilities for accessing emails" had already been obtained, free of charge.[3] Gamma International is an extensive and, for outsiders, obscure conglomerate of various subsidiaries and partner companies, some of which are based in Munich. The Munich field office denies having made the Cairo offer.[4] But Munich's state's attorney's office is examining whether this affair merits opening a penal investigation of Gamma. German law forbids the sale of the type of software, that was proposed to Egypt's domestic secret service.[5]

Telephone Surveillance

Accusations that German firms are equipping the highly repressive Middle East police forces and secret services with repression technology are regularly raised. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported in June 2009 that a joint venture of the Siemens A.G. and the Finnish Nokia had sold "Deep Packet Inspection" merchandise to Iran, thereby making comprehensive telephone surveillance possible.[6] The joint venture has since been sold and now operates under the name of trovicor. At the time, Siemens contended it had not provided Tehran with "deep packet inspection" technology, but did not deny that with the supply of telecommunication products, Tehran also received telephone surveillance equipment. What was not mentioned at that time, was that Siemens had provided the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) access to at least some of the telephone networks it had installed - also, even if only temporarily - to the Iranian telecommunication's network. In the past, employees of German companies that had "delivered telephone systems or even wiretapping equipment to Arab countries" helped the German foreign intelligence "with decoding" the telecommunication traffic of that country. ( reported.[7])

"A sort of Surveillance State"

Even though the companies in question repeatedly deny having delivered specific items of merchandise, it is totally uncontested that German businesses are intent upon providing so-called security technology to the Middle East's repressive states. According to the German ministry of economics, the global market volume for so-called civilian security technology and services - which, alongside numerous products for preventing natural catastrophes, also encompasses technology for repression - is currently estimated at about 100 billion Euros - with an annual growth of approximately five percent. A study contracted by the ministry of economics considers that this "denotes a strong growth potential for German exports (...) particularly in the Arab realm."[8] For Saudi Arabia alone - where Germany currently has cornered 10% of the security market - experts are predicting that by 2018, the market volume will be up to US $90 billion. Last autumn, business circles were seeing, "several powder kegs" in the countries of the Arab world.[9] A "certain degree of insecurity", including at the Persian Gulf, is causing "those authorities in charge of security (...) to build up a sort of surveillance state." On the Arab Peninsular, western security firms would therefore be encountering a "financially strong and lucrative," though rather "highly competitive market."[10]

Repression, the Market of the Future

The German government is supporting these efforts to corner the global market of repression. November 24, 2010, the German Economic Minister, Rainer Bruederle (FDP), introduced an industrial policy initiative for the "Civilian Security, the Market of the Future". According to his ministry, the objective is "to create the optimal framework for the success of German products and services on the national and international security markets."[11] A central element, according to the ministry, is "a new export initiative for security technology and services." "Under the umbrella trade-mark 'Security Made in Germany'" the ministry seeks to match the various instruments of foreign trade promotion "precisely to the special needs of the security business." For this purpose, it had commissioned a detailed "industrial policy conception" already in November 2010, entitled "Civilian Security, the Market of the Future."[12]

Very Successful

The conceptual activity focused the economic ministry's practical support, which had already sponsored a "security delegation business" trip to Saudi Arabia in June 2010. According to the report, at the time, "German companies, in the course of the preceding 12 months, were able to accomplish some very successful projects in the IT security field."[13] Minister Bruederle had scheduled a trip to Saudi Arabia and possibly also to Qatar for the first quarter of 2011, where the security industry was to be of special importance. The Parliamentary State Secretary in the Economic Ministry, Hans-Joachim Otto (FDP) had already visited the United Arab Emirates in January. Otto arrived January 16 in the Emirates, accompanied by a German business delegation and opened the Intersec Security Fair. He also negotiated with Dubai's police chief on the "question of concrete cooperation in security relevant matters."[14] In Dubai, Germany has long since been doing good business. Already years ago, the German Siemens AG equipped its police headquarters with German security technology.[15]

[1], [2] Nahost: Überwachung Made in Germany; 08.03.2011
[3] Deutsche Abhörsoftware für Ägyptens Geheimdienst? 06.03.2011
[4] Keine Trojaner nach Ägypten verkauft; 11.03.2011
[5] Trojaner für Nahost; 10.03.2011
[6] Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology; 22.06.2009
[7] see also Exchange of Information
[8] Marktpotenzial von Sicherheitstechnologien und Sicherheitsdienstleistungen;
[9] Deutsche IT-Technik in den arabischen Golfländern gefragt; 11.10.2010
[10] Golfstaaten investieren kräftig in Sicherheit;
[11] Bundeswirtschaftsminister Brüderle stellt Initiative "Zukunftsmarkt zivile Sicherheit" vor; 24.11.2010
[12] Zukunftsmarkt Zivile Sicherheit. Industriepolitische Konzeption des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie, Berlin, November 2010
[13] Delegationsreise Sicherheitswirtschaft in das Königreich Saudi-Arabien;
[14] Parlamentarischer Staatssekretär Otto besucht Vereinigte Arabische Emirate: "Strategische Partnerschaft im Bereich Sicherheitswirtschaft stärken!" 20.01.2011
[15] see also Boomdiktaturen