While the U.S. State Department spends millions of dollars helping people in the Middle East circumvent Web censorship, a handful of California companies are providing autocratic Middle East regimes with the technology to censor the Web, reports The Wall Street Journal. The global Web-security market is a hot industry (valued at $1.8 billion in 2010) and U.S. companies are competing abroad to deliver web-blocking technologies to, in some cases, stridently repressive regimes. Here's a look at what U.S. companies are up to in the region:
McAfee The computer security firm has sold content-flitering software to Internet-service providers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, reports the Journal. The company sells its SmartFilter product which can block a range of web content deemed politically or "religiously offensive." An ISP worker in Kuwait says when the government requests that he block a sites content via SmartFilter "It's kind of a gentlemanly understanding: 'We're going to honor your requests."
Blue Coat Systems The network security firm has provided web-blocking technology and hardware in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar says the Journal, interviewing workers at Internet-service providers in the region. An official at Bahrain's main ISP said the government gives him a list of websites to block, which includes political sites. The ISP uses Blue Coat and McAfee SmartFilter technology to execute the block.