Defense Ministry to probe technology sales to Iran

"We will decide whether to launch investigation based on findings" of initial probe, ministry says.

By NADAV SHEMER
December 24, 2011 19:24
2 minute read.
Control room of Internet provider in Iran

Control room of Internet provider in Iran 311 (R). (photo credit: Caren Firouz / Reuters)

 
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The Defense Ministry has launched an initial probe into reports that an Israeli hitech company knowingly sold Internet-surveillance equipment through a distributor in Denmark to Iran, the ministry said on Saturday.

“We will decide if to launch a full investigation based on the findings,” the ministry said. If launched, the investigation will be led by MALMAB, the Defense Ministry security department.

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The probe was launched after Bloomberg reported Friday that Allot Communications Ltd., a company based in Hod Hasharon, sent the surveillance equipment to a Danish distributor, which then repackaged the gear and shipped it to Iran.

According to the Bloomberg report, Allot Communications sold the Danish company a product called NetEnforcer which conducts “deep packet inspection” of Internet networks and can also be used to optimize net traffic.

Bloomberg said that deeppacket inspection has been used to snoop into e-mails in countries like Tunisia, and to even change its contents. It can also reportedly be used to identify anonymous webusers and enable authorities to arrest and torture those users in countries such as Iran.

Officials at Allot told Bloomberg that they did not have knowledge of products being sent to Iran. The news agency said in its report that it spoke to three former employees who claimed that it was well known within the company that the equipment was sent to Iran.

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Allot President and CEO Rami Hadar said the Bloomberg article contained “a number of critical inaccuracies,” but added that the company was exploring measures it could take to better control the final destination of its products.

Hadar said Allot’s equipment is not designed for intrusive surveillance purposes, but rather for optimizing Internet traffic for service providers. The equipment lacks capability to analyze or extract knowledge on the actual content of traffic, he said.

Allot’s corporate policy is to comply with Israeli and non- Israeli laws, but the company strongly believes its equipment is not regulated by Israeli-defense export laws, Hadar said.

Lastly, he added that Allot sells its products through a network of distributors and resellers worldwide, but that beyond contractual measures it has no electronic way to locate or disable its products after shipment.

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