When George Bush lifted trade restrictions against Libya in 2004, Colonel Qaddafi’s regime went on a “surveillance-gear shopping spree.”Evidence of this global buying were present on the bottom floor of a six-story Tripoli building Monday as reporters from The Wall Street Journal were taken to the dictators Internet monitoring station.
The French tech firm Bull SA, and their subsidiary Amesys installed many of the systems Qaddafi’s regime used to closely watch Libyans online activity.
Even Boeing held talks with the dictator earlier this year to install state-of-the-art Internet monitoring products, but the civil war put an end to any further contracts. Qaddafi put a strong focus on Internet activity despite that of the 6.6 million people in Libya only 100,000 residents had Internet subscriptions.
The Journal reports on the Amesys system installed in 2009:
The Eagle system allows agents to observe network traffic and peer into people’s emails, among other things. In the room, one English-language poster says: “Whereas many Internet interception systems carry out basic filtering on IP address and extract only those communications from the global flow (Lawful Interception), EAGLE Interception system analyses and stores all the communications from the monitored link (Massive interception).”
On its website, Amesys says its “strategic nationwide interception” system can detect email from Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail and see chat conversations on MSN instant messaging and AIM. It says investigators can “request the entire database” of Internet traffic “in real time” by entering keywords, email addresses or the names of file attachments as search queries.
As the Arab Spring blew up around him Qaddafi struggled to place further controls on communications, but it was too late.
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