Tripoli, 10 March 2012: The French company that put together a powerful communications snooping programme for Qaddafi, is selling off the product, . . .[restrict]saying internet interception is no longer a core part of its business.
International technology firm Bull Information Systems is disposing of the Eagle Glint software developed by its Amesys subsidiary, specifically for Qaddafi but thereafter, reportedly sold to other governments in the Middle East and Africa.
Bull would not identify who the new owner is likely to be, saying only that it has agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations on the sale. It claims that the Eagle Glint system accounted for only half a percent of its revenues which in 2011 were €1.313 million ($1.7 billion), meaning sales were some $88 million.
The name Amesys first surfaced when it was spotted on documents in a film the BBC made inside the Tripoli “Homeland Security” operation centre, established in 2007. Amesys makes software and hardware to intercept emails, internet voice calls (VoIP), chat rooms, web pages visited and any searches made on a search engine.
As part of its Spy Files release, Wikileaks this January revealed a series of largely marketing documents for the Eagle Glint system and various items of hardware the French firm produces. However one document dated November 11, 2006 is titled “ Homeland Security Program. Public Safety Systems and Passport Network of the Great Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.
While this makes no mention of Amesys, it includes Crescendo Industries, which according to an organisational chart included in the presentation, was a then partially-owned German subsidiary of the French company,. Crescendo in turn fully-owned another firm called i2e Technologies. Crescendo described itself as “ a critical systems architect ”.
These two businesses between them proposed extensive hardware installations to snoop not just on internet traffic but also mobile and landline phones. The proposal suggested that at least two completely separate monitoring centres be set up, duplicating their data. Though not actually specified in the document, it seems that the Eagle Glint software would be the key operational programme, enabling captured raw data to be retrieved and analysed and a constant watch kept for any key words that would launch an immediate alert.
Perhaps ironically, there was in addition a pitch to sell security to the government’s IT systems, which according to Crescendo, at that time had no security protection at all and were wide open to hackers.
They also sought to sell the Libyan security chiefs with whom they were dealing, two VIP convoy protection systems, which could jam any radio wave within 100 metres of a moving vehicle. However such was the high power required, the VIPs needed to sit in a protective Faraday Cage. There was also a pitch to sell Libya passport processing software.
It is not yet clear how many of these other proposals Qaddafi’s people went for while it is certain that the Amesys Eagle Glint was purchased. The original specification certainly must have struck some as being “over-engineered”. The spy programming and hardware could pick up 15,000 new connections every second and could handle over a million single connections. Given that even today, six years later, there are still only 100,000 people in Libya with internet connections, this seems a little like over-kill. [/restrict]