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HP denies selling tracking technology to Syrian government

26 Nov 2012
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HP has denied directly selling products to the Syrian government but has admitted that its partners and resellers may have, in breach of US sanctions against the nation.

According to news reports in November last year, HP technology was being used by the Syrian government to track citizens' communications.

While links to the Syrian regime would tarnish HP's already battered reputation further, such links - if true - would have also meant HP was breaking strict US economic sanctions prohibitting the export of most goods containing US manufactured components to the country.

HP finally responded to the reports last month in a private letter addressed to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has now been made public.

In the letter HP said it was likely that one of its partners had sold the products to the Italian surveillance company Area SpA, without knowing the ultimate destination for the products.

HP also said that Area SpA was in a contract with HP to comply with all applicable export laws.

"Compliance with US and international trade laws are of the highest priority for HP," said an HP spokesperson in a statement released to V3.

Last year, according to Bloomberg reports, Area SpA was in talks with the Syrian government to install a system that would give Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime the ability to scan all emails and mobile phone communication flowing through the county.

After protests in Italy, Area SpA said it would not be completing the project but it remains unclear how much of the project is operational, if any, and what equipment is in use.

The latest revelations follow hot on the heels of HP taking a $8.8bn hit on its investment in Autonomy, which it acquired in 2011, with HP accusing the former management team at the software maker of cooking the books.

Autonomy founder and former chief executive Mike Lynch flatly denied all the accusations levelled at the firm.

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Rosalie Marshall
About

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site LocalGov.tv. Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.


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