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[liberationtech] FinFisher is now controlled by UK export controls

Pavol Luptak wilder at
Thu Sep 20 02:04:43 PDT 2012

On Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 11:00:16AM +0100, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb wrote:
> I had to reread the article and the documents a few times, but I think this control is *for the short term* very good news. Congrats to PI and all involved for sticking a well-placed oar in.

Probably very short. Relocating company to the new country is usually question
of few weeks.

The UK government just does it because they want to show their citizens
that they care (from taxpayer's money). Because there thousands ways how to 
circumvent it, this regulation is not useless only, but also unfair to the
taxpayers (as the most "we really care about you" government's regulations
like millions of CCTV cameras in London).

> In the long term the regulation isn't going to stop FinFisher sale. Clearly the Gamma International people are reasonably smart people, whatever you may say about their morals/ethics. The best it can do is cause them some short-medium term operational problems. Lots of project managers and business people running around figuring out what it is they can now actually do. What they need to talk to the UK government for, what documentation is needed, etc. They will be paying a lot of money and time to their lawyers (there's a question, who represents them legally?), and their project managers to juggle projects/engineers/developers time. What can we change to continue operation, without breaking the law?

I know many UK companies that just moved to Cyprus (or Caribic), because of
the stupid regulations. I don't see a reason why Gamma International should
stay in the UK if they want to do a big business.

> I hope the UK government actually follow-up, and keep a close eye on what they are doing. Instead of being able to offer the installation files/media/training material, etc as a download via a server hosted in [INSERT FOREIGN COUNTRY] to your friendly dictator surveillance operation/dictator controlled telco, they will now presumably have to go to the UK government and ask for permission to conduct business outside of the EU.

They have to follow UK laws only if they want to stay the UK company...
And this can be changed easily if they want to continue in their business.

> Like you said in a previous mail, Gamma can just move the business to Italy/Germany and carry on exporting from there, but presumably the UK government could punish them for doing that? This will not stop Finspy sale forever, but  if the UK Government closely monitor Gammas operation regarding this, it will certainly cause delays and upset.

??? Of course not! Why _anybody_ should ask the UK government if he can start
his own company in any country in the world?

We are free people - anyone can start company in any country (if this country
has no problem with it).

You cannot prohibit the Gamma people to start company anywhere they wish.

> What constitutes an export, in the case of software? Is it the initial agreement to sell services/provide products? Is it download from a fileserver hosted in the UK to the client country? If it involves hardware, this could be circumvented by referring the client to some other hardware supplier.

This is difficult to monitor, especially if you have a chain of suppliers 
and the first supplier does not know the last one. But yes, you can have 
quite strict agreements that enforce it.

> About the "relying on cryptography" excuse - again long run it's probably not very useful, but if the UK government are going to restrict it due to its use of cryptography, Gamma have their hands tied, in the short term. Removing the cryptography would mean evading the restrictions, and lead to punishment? 

Again, people behing Gamma international they are free people, they can start
company anywhere in the world they wish (despite of the fact the UK government
likes it or not).

> If this software was created by a "hacker" group, would be classified as illegal software, and would carry a prison sentence for it's use. Any upset in operations, no matter how short, to companies who create software like this can only be a good thing. 

But I guess this software was not created by a "hacker group".

Making any software ilegal is absolutely stupid, because software is just tool,
you can criminalize just people for using this software for malicious 
purposes. And it's even true for assassination market software 
( ).

[wilder at] [] [talker: 5678]

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