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Ethiopia's Surveillance Capacity Expanded

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German surveillance technology company Trovicor played a central role in expanding the Ethiopian government's communications surveillance capacities, according to a joint investigation by Privacy International and netzpolitik.org.

The company, formerly part of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), provided equipment to Ethiopia's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in 2011 and offered to massively expand the government's ability to intercept and store internet protocol (IP) traffic across the national telecommunications backbone. Trovicor's proposal was to double the government's internet surveillance capacity: two years' worth of data intercepted from Ethiopian networks would be stored.

Trovicor's predecessor in intelligence solutions, Siemens Pte worked closely with its British partner Gamma Group International via an offshore company in Lebanon to expand lawful interception in the east African country. Gamma Group's highly intrusive FinFisher malware suite was used to target Ethiopian dissidents. Forensic traces of FinFisher malware have also been traced back to one of Gamma's Lebanese operations.

Together, the companies and their Lebanese offshore subsidiaries helped one of Africa's most repressive governments spy on one of its largest populations.