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Blue Coat owns up to Syrian Web-blocking

Shipment was meant for Iraq, claims company

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Blue Coat Systems has fingered itself as one of a number of US companies whose Web filtering kit is being used by the Syrian government.

The company has told the Wall Street Journal that the Syrian government’s online crackdown is being partly enabled by its devices. However, the filtering, WAN optimization and deep packet inspection vendor says its products were taken to Syria out of a shipment it believed was bound for Iraq.

America has had trade embargoes against Syria in place since 2004.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the vendor has already alerted the US government to what it calls an improper transfer of at least 13 devices to the Syrian government, which is blocking or monitoring Internet communications as part of its response to the protests.

Other firms have suffered similar embarrassment in the past. In September, the UK’s Gamma International denied selling Skype-snooping software to Mubarak’s regime in Egypt. The Wall Street Journal also identifies McAfee and Netsweeper as being used by various repressive governments in the Middle East.

Blue Coat says that analysis of logs and IP addresses that were leaked by activists Telcomix indicates that its devices are in Syria, according to this AFP story. An unnamed company spokesperson said “since we didn’t sell it there, we don’t know the particulars.”

The WSJ says the US State Department is investigating. ®

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