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UK outfit denies aiding Mubarak snoop online

UK firm Gamma International said it never got around to supplying the ousted Egyptian regime snooping software with which it could keep an eye on online activists.

Yet documents found in the headquarters of the country's security service following the ousting of Mubarak suggest the software was used for a five-month trial period during 2010.

Gamma International produces a range of FinFisher products which it says is "solely offered to Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies." When interconnected, the FinFisher suite gives "intelligence agencies advanced tools for unsurpassed IT investigation and surveillance techniques within the IT environment," the firm brags on its web site.

Since the tumultuous events that lead to the fall of Mubarak were said to have been largely organised on Facebook and Twitter, we may either assume that the outfit never did supply the software - or that it didn't work too well, or that the online murmurings kicked off after the trial period ended.

According to the BBC, foreign secretary William Hague said laws governing software exports were a bit vague and he will "critically" examine the area.

The BBC said Hague would like to see a ban on any export of goods used for repression and would look at the evidence.

Ironically, members of the UK Government - including the Prime Minister - suggested that social networking sites and messaging services such as BlackBerry's Messenger service should be turned off in times of social unrest.

Maybe Hague should kick off his investigations in his own back yard.

It's also worth pointing out that if the snooping software or something like it had been effective in disrupting the organisation of the revolution, everything would be tickety-boo with the UK government and it would have kept on doing business with the corrupt ancien régime.