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Privacy International launches the Surveillance Industry Index & New Accompanying Report

Date: 
Monday, August 1, 2016
Authors: 

Privacy International launches the Surveillance Industry Index & New Accompanying Report

Privacy International is today proud to release the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), the world's largest publicly available educational resource of data and documents of its kind on the surveillance industry, and an accompanying report charting the growth of the industry and its current reach.

The SII, which is based on data collected by journalists, activists, and researchers across the world is the product of months of collaboration between Transparency Toolkit and Privacy International.

The SII, which is completely searchable, features over 1500 brochures and data on over 520 surveillance companies, as well as over 600 reported individual exports of specific surveillance technologies taken from open source records, including investigative and technical reports, as well as government export licensing data. The resource will help the public, activists, journalists and policy makers better understand the modern surveillance industry and technologies.

The report “The Global Surveillance Industry" charts the development of the industry since the earliest reports in the 70s that wiretapping equipment was being exported by Western countries and used by authoritarian regimes. It provides an accessible introduction into the types of the technologies currently on offer, and uses a combination of export data, company data and analysis of surveillance technologies to assess the current industry.

The 528 surveillance companies in the SII are overwhelmingly based in economically advanced, large arms exporting states, with the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, and Israel comprising the top five countries in which the companies are headquartered. 87% of the companies are headquartered in OECD member states, and 75% of them are in NATO states. The report then presents an analysis of the surveillance industry in Israel, the US, UK, Germany, and Italy, including an analysis of known exports as well as industry characteristics.

It also analyses 152 reported imports of surveillance technologies into the Middle East and North Africa region, and discusses policy developments aimed at regulating the trade in some of the technologies, including through industry self-regulation, sanctions, and export controls.

SII and the accompanying report provides much needed information about a secretive industry which has grown to meet government demand for more surveillance power. Understanding this industry, the technology, and how they're used and traded across the world, is crucial to not only understanding this debate, but also fostering accountability and the development of comprehensive safeguards and effective policy.

 

Background

PI originally released the SII in 2013, but after a bug in the drupal app used to develop it, we decided it was safer to take the entire resource down than to risk attacks on users’ details. In collaboration with Transparency Toolkit, the entire interface has been re-designed. Transparency Toolkit is a pro-transparency group which uses free software to collect and analyze open data and works with investigative journalists and human rights organizations to turn that into useful, actionable knowledge. This version contains data and brochures on more companies, as well as a load of new information on exports of surveillance equipment, and will be updated regularly to track the industry.

For information on the sources and methods for the SII and the data, please see the Sources & Methods section of the report.

For any questions and comments regarding SII or the report, please email edin@privacyinternational.org or matthew@privacyinternational.org.