Called the Surveillance Industry Index (SII), the database is a tool created by London-based watchdog Privacy International, reports the Verge. Currently the searchable database includes information on 528 private firms that sell surveillance technology to governments around the world. Of the companies listed in the database, 122 are in the U.S., 104 are based in the U.K., 45 in France, 41 in Germany, and 27 in Israel. Among them is a Dubai-based company called Advanced Middle East Systems that makes a device called Cerebro that allows any government to tap fiber optic cables to access unlimited web data.
Announcing the release of the database, Edin Omanovic, a research officer at Privacy International, said in a statement:
“State surveillance is one of the most important and polarizing issues of our time, yet the secrecy around it means it’s a debate lacking reliable facts. Understanding the role of the surveillance industry, and how these technologies are traded and used across the world, is crucial to not only understanding this debate, but also fostering accountability and the development of comprehensive safeguards and effective policy.”
The says they hope the Surveillance Industry Index database will become an important tool for activists, journalists, and policymakers in the future to promote transparency of the companies and tools involved in the global surveillance industry trade.