Egyptian police are pulling out all the stops in their attempts to try and squash the mass uprising of protests sweeping through Cairo right now. And besides the high-pressure water cannons, tear gas, and batons, one of the most potent tools being utilized is a crackdown on Internet use. So which Seattle-based company has provided technology to Egypt that helps in such an information war?
You guessed it, Boeing.
Or, at least, a company owned by Boeing.
As the Huffington Post reports today, Narus, a secretive Silicon Valley company, is responsible for creating "NarusInsight," which essentially amounts to an extremely powerful Internet spying device that's supposedly used in the U.S. by the National Security Agency to monitor individual and corporate activity on the web.
Also known as "Deep Packet Inspection," the technology can be used to find out who's viewing what online and track them accordingly.
And Egypt's got it.
Timothy Karr writes on HuffPo:
Narus provides Egypt Telecom with Deep Packet Inspection equipment (DPI), a content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from users of the Internet and mobile phones, as it passes through routers on the information superhighway.
Other Narus global customers include the national telecommunications authorities in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia--two countries that regularly register alongside Egypt near the bottom of Human Rights Watch's world report.
As Steve Bannerman, Narus' marketing VP, once bragged about in an interview with Wired:
"Anything that comes through [an Internet protocol network], we can record. We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on, we can reconstruct their [voice-over Internet protocol] calls."
Of course, now the Egyptian government has seemingly shut down the entire Internet and all cell phone service in the country. So people aren't really even able to get online to be tracked by the creepy surveillance technology sold by Narus.
But the fact that the government there is even willing to pull the plug completely on information-sharing means that they likely will have even less hesitation about spying on people once communications are back up again.