Before I begin, I want to say that there needs to exist something like the US Munitions List for the various types content restriction software and that it should be illegal to export content restriction software and various DRM enforcement tools to countries that do not respect freedom of speech and freedom of the press. There really ought to be a law --
This blog post started out as a remark on a headline from American Chronicle: New Anti-Intelligence Leak Initiatives Adopted by Gov't. The headline pertains to leaks involving the CIA. But before the ink was even dry on the post, I found a really fine example of what one might mean by "Anti-Intelligence."
If there is such a thing as anti-intelligence, it must certainly figure into the business model of the company Secure Computing, which is making money selling censorware to oppressive governments. (That'll teach the world to sing!)
Mark Frauenfelder writes:
It helps corrupt dictators oppress their people. In defiance of the US government's stated goal of promoting democracy around the world, Secure Computing has the gall to license its filtering products to totalitarian governments, such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These countries, which have government-run ISPs, pass all their citizens' web requests through centralized filters. Can you imagine having a business model that includes selling tools of oppression to tyrants?
Their product description for SmartFilter, currently blocking BoingBoing and possibly also Google's translation tools, begins:
Protect your organization from the risks associated with employee
Internet use with SmartFilter® Web filtering. By controlling
inappropriate Internet use with SmartFilter, organizations can reduce
legal liability, enhance Web security, increase productivity, and
preserve bandwidth for business-related activities. SmartFilter puts
you in control.
But given whom they are selling to and the purpose it's being put to, it might as well read:
Protect your country from the risks associated with citizen Internet use with SmartFilter® Web filtering. SmartFilter puts you in control.
Why wait for the Dystopian Future when you can have it right now?
Secure Computing’s executives are John McNulty, President, Chairman and CEO; Tim Steinkopf; Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Vincent M. Schiavo, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales; Mike Gallagher, Senior Vice President, Product Development; Mary K. Budge, Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel, Paul Henry, Vice President, Strategic Accounts, and Scott Montgomery, Vice President, Product Management. T. Paul Thomas has resigned after a "brief stint" as senior vice president, marketing and corporate strategy in early March.
Looks to me like the one possibly responsible for the worrisome international deals is probably Vincent M. Schiavo, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales.
Prior to joining Secure Computing, Vince Schiavo was president at
PolyServe, Inc., an enterprise software development firm, where he
guided the company from concept to international presence with
multimillion-dollar annual software revenues. With 21 years in the
computer industry, Mr. Schiavo has a proven track record in OEM sales,
distribution channels, direct sales, business development, marketing
and team leadership. He served as Vice President, Worldwide Sales at
Sonic Solutions, Inc. and has also held sales and marketing positions
with Radius, Inc., Apple Computer, Inc. and Data General Corporation.
Mr. Schiavo has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of
Secure Computing is a publicly held company with ticker symbol SCUR. This is a chart of how their stock as done over the past year:
This Press Release came out from the company over Business Wire this morning:
Secure Computing's SmartFilter and Webwasher Products Help Customers Manage Internet Usage Policies While Preserving Bandwidth
SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 6, 2006--Secure Computing Corporation (NASDAQ:SCUR - News), the experts in securing connections between people, applications and networks(TM) today announced that its SmartFilter® and Webwasher® Secure Content Management suite can help companies manage important bandwidth and maintain employee productivity during high profile events such as college basketball's signature event, the 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament, which is also known as March Madness(TM).
I imagine it also helps whole countries preserve bandwidth during public beheadings or while filling mass graves, yes? I think I need a new category: Corporate Navel-Gazing.
Here are their major shareholders. Perhaps some could be pursuaded to divest themselves of SCUR on moral grounds.
To date, Secure Computing's press coverage seems to have been dominated almost entirely by their press releases. There seems to be almost no discussion of the company or the nature of its products on the financial discussion boards. Perhaps that needs to change.
Also, their execs do make public appearances from time to time. Someone might want to go see Paul Henry, VP of Strategic Accounts, and ask what is strategic about selling censorware to tyrants. Here are a few of his speaking engangements:
- The Association for Operations Managment: Thu, Apr 13 2006,
- LayerOne: Sat, Apr 15 2006,
- CSI NetSec 2006: Tue, Jun 13 2006, 3:15-4:15PM,
Finally, if any of the Secure Computing execs are reading this, I suggest they read about the recent media shutdown in Kenya, for example, before they license their products to any more oppressive governments. This isn't about whether the US rock'n'roll lifestyle can be exported, or whether corporate employees or people in the milotary get to see nipples at work. This is about very basic freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Thou shalt not export censorware to tyrants.
UPDATE: It appears that one of SCUR's major stockholders, Paxworld Balanced Fund, is a socially responsible mutual fund. We should all politely request that they request themselves of SCUR.
(See also Websites blocked by political stripes for Marines in Iraq? on BoingBoing.)