US blacklists computer networking company for censorship abroad

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the specific action taken by the Commerce Department.

The Department of Commerce added computer networking company Sandvine to its blacklist earlier this week, alleging the company supplied equipment “to the Government of Egypt” and engaged in censorship.

The department announced Tuesday that it would ban the company from obtaining U.S. technology because of national security concerns.

The “Entity List,” which now has seven entries, identifies organizations where there is reason to believe “based on specific and articulable facts” that they have been involved with or pose a risk to national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.

The department said it was adding Sandvine to the list because it provided “deep packet inspection technology” to the Egyptian government. The government was accused of using “mass web-monitoring and censorship to block news as well as target political actors and human rights activists.”

Sandvine is a software company that started in Ontario, Canada, but was acquired by a San Francisco-based company in 2017 and has been combined with Procera Networks.

Its products can be used to monitor large amounts of internet traffic between networks and can be used to target spam and viruses. The technology can also block websites and messaging apps, and it can carry out surveillance of internet activity, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

The decision to blacklist the company comes after Bloomberg reported last year that Sandvine made sales upward of $30 million in Egypt, including to state-owned companies and government agencies.

It was one of at least a dozen countries where the company’s equipment was utilized by the government to censor online content. It has even been used to hack the iPhone of an Egyptian presidential candidate, the outlet reported.

The Commerce Department’s End-User Review Committee determined that Sandvine should be added to the list under “destinations of Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates.”

In an emailed statement, Sandvine said it is aware of the action announced by the Commerce Department.

“We are committed to working closely with government officials to understand, address and resolve their concerns,” the company said. “We will do everything we can to continue to support our customers.”

Updated at 5:28 p.m.

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