The dark story of how a French firm helped the Assad regime's mass-surveillance programme

By and (Bluetouff et Kitetoa)

French IT firm Qosmos, specialised in mass-surveillance technology and which works on projects for France's intelligence services, is the subject of a judicial investigation launched in April into ‘complicity in acts of torture’. The probe centres on the Paris-based company’s involvement in a contract, led by an Italian company, to supply the Bashar al-Assad regime in war-torn Syria with a system to intercept, open and archive almost all email and other internet traffic flowing through the country.  Qosmos says it eventually withdrew from the project for ethical reasons, when the key technology it provided for the project was not yet operational. But, as detailed in this joint report by Mediapart and, the history of the case raises more questions than it provides answers.

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In November 2011, the Bloomberg news agency revealed how French software company Qosmos SA, one of France’s leading experts in the most advanced internet interception technology known as Deep Packet Inspection, was sub-contracted by German firm Utimaco, itself sub-contracted by Italian company Area SpA, to provide Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad with a mass surveillance system with which to spy on his opponents.