According to a recent investigation by the Swedish news show Uppdrag Granskning, Sweden’s telecommunications giant Teliasonera is the latest Western company revealed to be colluding with authoritarian regimes by selling them high-tech surveillance gear to spy on its citizens. Teliasonera has allegedly enabled the governments of Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Kazakhstan to spy on journalists, union leaders, and members of the political opposition. One Teliasonera whistle-blower told the reporters,
The Arab Spring prompted the regimes to tighten their surveillance. … There’s no limit to how much wiretapping is done, none at all.
The investigative report, titled
Black Boxes, in reference to the black boxes Teliasonera allowed police and security services to install in their operation centres — which granted them the unrestricted capability to monitor all communications—including Internet traffic, phone calls, location data from cell phones, and text messages—in real-time. This has caused concern among Swedish citizens and Teliasonera shareholders, who had previously been assuaged by assurances from the telecommunications company that they follow the law in the countries in which they are operating. After a meeting with Peter Norman, Sweden’s Minister of Financial Markets, the chairman of Teliasonera’s board of directors issued a statement, announcing that they had launched
an action programme for handling issues related to protection of privacy and freedom of expression in non-democratic countries, in a better and more transparent way — via redwolf.newsvine.com