15 September 2020, 22:26 | Mikita Mielkaziorau, Onliner
In late August, Bloomberg wrote that the government of Belarus had blocked most of the Internet access during the elections using equipment produced by the American company Sandvine Inc. The magazine received information about this from two independent sources. Bloomberg now reports that the technology company, backed by private investment company Francisco Partners, has terminated the deal with Belarus, claiming that the Belarusian authorities have used its technology in violation of human rights.
According to Bloomberg, the company’s technology was used by the National Traffic Exchange Center (NTEC) to block thousands of websites during the nationwide protests.
Earlier, it was revealed that Sandvine representatives had personally met with Belarusian officials in May, demonstrating the capabilities of equipment that can block access to a wide variety of websites. The equipment was then shipped through the Russian contractor Jet Infosystems to be installed at two sites in Minsk. This allowed the NTEC to blacklist up to 150 million URLs of websites.
Thus, three days after 9 August, there were problems with the Internet, which covered almost the whole country. The authorities claimed that the Internet in Belarus was “being killed from abroad” and not on their initiative.
“This is a human rights violation which has led to the automatic termination of our end user license agreement,” Sandvine said in a statement. “Our company takes human rights violations very seriously. We also do not accept the use of technology to restrict information, which ultimately leads to human rights violations.”
Sandvine noted that it “has not violated any U.S. laws or other applicable export control laws or sanctions.” They say, from a technological perspective, the company is exploring ways to improve its products in order to reduce the risk of misuse.