Governments known to stifle dissent or otherwise abuse power are buying inexpensive off-the-shelf surveillance software that can monitor conversations and track the movements of thousands.
An Associated Press investigation finds lax regulations allow countries – including those that routinely violate basic rights – to obtain the products. In Peru’s case, a package cost less than a military fighter jet and required little technical know-how to set up.
Israeli-American firm Verint Systems supplies some of those country’s programs, detailed in confidential documents. They mirror on a small scale U.S. surveillance programs that intercepted the communications of millions not suspected of any crime.
Training manuals, contracts, invoices and emails obtained by the AP in Peru expose the behind-the-scenes workings of a highly secretive industry that operates globally.