Welcome to the baton ball
Security & Policing 2018, Issue 1464
riot-police.jpg THE Home Office has invited some of the world’s most repressive regimes to the UK next month to browse stalls selling surveillance technology and crowd control equipment at a “security” trade fair it is running.

The “Security & Policing” event started out as a way for suppliers to show off their wares to UK police forces. But since 2010 the government has invited “overseas government security-related delegates” to the fair, which this year takes place on 6-8 March at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre in Hampshire promoting “legitimate defence and security exports”.

The Home Office, which organises the event with the defence industry trade body, ADS Group, and the UK government’s arms sales unit, the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), invites and provides escorts for “security” delegations from more than 70 nations. The current list of invitees is secret until March, but in recent years delegates have included such cuddly bastions of human rights as Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

Batons and handcuffs
As well as flogging sniper rifles, shotguns, batons and handcuffs, the exhibition promotes cyber-spying firms that have been accused of helping repressive governments. Exhibitors include Gamma Group, which offers “strategic communications intelligence (network-based interception)”. The Bahraini security services used Gamma Group software to hack phones and computers of pro-democracy activists and lawyers (Eye 1373).

Another exhibitor, Grey Heron Technologies, has strong links with Hacking Team, the notorious Milan-based surveillance company. At the fair Grey Heron will be selling “state-of-the-art software for legal surveillance of digital devices”. It gives a Milan address and its chief marketing officer is former Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe.

The world knows a lot about Hacking Team because, er, it was itself hacked in 2015. Leaked sales emails and other documents from its server confirmed that it did business with government agencies in Ethiopia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Grey Heron now looks to be picking up some Hacking Team business and personnel. It appears to be linked to a UK business, also called Grey Heron, run by a former British army officer. Neither the Italian nor the UK Grey Heron responded to emails or phone calls.

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Charities minister Tracey Crouch, whose remit also covers sport, is too busy congratulating Team GB in Pyeonchang to comment on the Oxfam scandal.

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Next issue on sale: 20th March 2018.
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Private Eye Issue 1463