Think tank presses Blue Coat over censorship concerns
Blue Coat, maker of software and appliances designed to monitor and restrict web traffic, has been criticized before
IDG News Service - A Canadian think tank called on Tuesday for continued scrutiny of U.S. security vendor Blue Coat Systems after a new technical analysis showed wide use of its products in countries with human rights and censorship concerns.
The Citizen Lab, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, published a report that showed Blue Coat technology widely deployed at key choke points in telecommunication systems.
The report was the result of several weeks of technical analysis that ended earlier this month and focused on two Blue Coat products: ProxySG and PacketShaper. Citizen Lab said those products have specific functions for surveillance, filtering, and censorship.
It found ProxySG in use by Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Blue Coat's PacketShaper product is used in Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela, the report said.
"We hope Blue Coat will take this report as an opportunity to explain their due diligence process to ensure that their devices are not used in ways that violate human rights," the Citizen Lab said in its report.
Blue Coat officials could not immediately be reached. The company admitted in late 2011 that some of its web-filtering products ended up in Syria despite a U.S. embargo. After an investigation, Blue Coat said the shipment of products in question was destined for Dubai and then onto Iraq.
Blue Coat is just one of a handful of companies who make similar software, including McAfee, Cisco, Websense, and Zscaler, the report said. Those companies' products have a "dual-use" nature that demands oversight to ensure against human rights abuses, Citizen Lab said.
"Such an approach requires an understanding of the likely end use of the technology in any given scenario, as well as carefully crafted legal and regulatory language," the report said.
Citizen Lab also advocated that companies could do their own human rights impact assessments into how their products may potentially be used.
The report said Blue Coat included in its marketing materials a case study involving King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia's science agency which is also responsible for filtering web sites deemed offensive.
"It appears Blue Coat Systems may not have fully appreciated or addressed the ramifications of such deployment of its technology, given its inclusion in marketing materials of KACST as a client 'success story,''' the report said.
In contrast, Citizen Lab said that one of Blue Coat's competitors, Websense, joined the Global Network Initiative, a group the encourages ethical decision-making amongst IT companies.
"The more companies take proactive measures to prevent complicity in human rights abuses, the more normalization of corporate social responsibility will take place within the industry," the report said.
Send news tips and comments to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts