State Sponsors of Surveillance: The Governments Helping Others Spy

In this section, you can read our report ‘Teach ’em to Phish: State Sponsors of Surveillance’, as well as access a range of other resources about how powerful governments are financing, training and equipping countries — including authoritarian regimes — with surveillance capabilities.

’Teach ‘em to Phish’ warns that rather than increasing security, state ‘security assistance’ programmes are entrenching authoritarianism, further facilitating human rights abuses against people, and diverting resources from long-term development programmes.

The report explores a range of examples of 'security assistance' programmes:

  • The report provides examples of how US Departments of State, Defense, and Justice all facilitate foreign countries’ surveillance capabilities, as well as an overview of how large arms companies have embedded themselves into such programmes, including at surveillance training bases in the US.
  • The EU and individual European countries are sponsoring surveillance globally. The EU is already spending billions developing border control and surveillance capabilities in foreign countries to deter migration to Europe.
  • Surveillance capabilities are also being supported by China’s government under the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and other efforts to expand into international markets.

As our report shows, instead of putting resources into long-term development solutions, such programmes further entrench authoritarianism and spur abuses around the world — the very things which cause insecurity in the first place. If these ‘benefactor’ countries truly want to assist other countries to be secure and stable, they should build schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure, and promote democracy and human rights.