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The clandestine mass surveillance network you’ve never heard of

The Pakistani Government has been significantly expanding their surveillance network, and a Privacy International report has revealed to the public for the first time the details of their mass surveillance scheme. The report, entitled “Tipping The Scales: Surveillance And Security In Pakistan,” has disclosed that there has been a drive by ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence) to capture all of the country’s incoming and outgoing communications.

Proposals commissioned in 2013 have come to light which reveal that ISI were calling for a comprehensive monitoring system which would track and monitor all international IP traffic and mobile communications data, including everything sent via broadband, WiFi and 3G networks. Not only did they request that this surveillance system be completely undetectable to users, but it must be suitable for network providers’ future expansion developments.

This new report raises concerns about Pakistan’s laws which are insufficiently regulated to protect the rights to privacy of the country’s citizens. There have even been recent changes to legislation which allow officials to implement surveillance procedures on the mere suspicion of an offence being enacted.

With a population of over 180 million, Pakistan generates a vast amount of communications traffic, and interception across the country’s 50 internet providers and 5 mobile phone operators has increased dramatically over the last ten years. Companies worldwide including China, France and the USA have supplied the vital surveillance equipment necessary to intercept these communications.

Nokia Siemens Network (NSN) even continued to assist in the expansion of Pakistan’s communication surveillance centres despite having officially left the “monitoring centre business” several years before.

After revelations in 2009 that NSN had been involved in selling surveillance equipment to the Iranians, they sold off their intelligence solutions unit. Keeping primarily the same staff, this company, rebranded as Trovicor, is still expanding its Pakistani communications network monitoring centres.