15:43 GMT15 January 2021
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    The British government is licensing its overseas trade of surveillance equipment to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates among other states, The Independent newspaper reported citing new records.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The equipment can be used to intercept phone messages as well as control and hack a number of intricate devices, the documents, found by charity Privacy International, revealed.

    "These categories of surveillance technology cover some of the most advanced and intrusive systems on the market. These would allow some of the most authoritarian countries in the world to carry out mass, suspicion-less surveillance and gain unlimited access to anyone’s private communications and device," Edin Omanovic, a research officer at Privacy International, was quoted as saying by the news outlet Wednesday.

    According to the newspaper, 2015 marked the first year the spying technologies were put on the government’s export licenses list, though it was still subject to the parliamentary debate under the draft Investigatory Powers Bill.

    The revelation comes the same day as British Prime Minister David Cameron refused a proposal to launch an inquiry into the delivery of UK-manufactured arms to Saudi Arabia. Explaining his move, Cameron stated that the arms exports of the United Kingdom were "carefully controlled."

    The UK government has faced staunch criticism for the British weaponry sales to the Gulf States both from parliamentarians and human rights groups in recent times, claiming it had been used to commit appalling attacks against civilians.

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    Tags:
    trade, sales, equipment, surveillance, David Cameron, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom
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