Tax-funded NZ company sold mass surveillance tech to torturers and GCHQ

A whistleblower has provided The Intercept with leaked documents about Endace, an obscure New Zealand company based in Auckland, revealing that the company -- which received millions in government funding -- developed the mass surveillance equipment used by the UK spy agency to engage in illegal mass surveillance on fiber-optic lines that traverse the UK, and that Endace's customer list also includes a who's-who of telcoms companies, spy agencies, and the Moroccan secret police, who make a practice of spying on people, then kidnapping and torturing them.

Endace called the surveillance tech it developed for GCHQ "Medusa," and the docs reveal that GHCQ used it to spy on fiber links, indiscriminately harvesting huge quantities of data on innocent people not suspected of any crime.


The government clients appear to be mostly intelligence agencies. A 2008 Endace customer list included: GCHQ; the Canadian and Australian defense departments (where their electronic spy agencies are located); a U.S. government contractor called Rep-Tron Systems Group, located in Baltimore, Maryland; and Morocco’s domestic surveillance agency, the DGST.

Other Endace customer lists contained in the leaked trove include the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, called SPAWAR; the Israeli Ministry of Defense (home of its Unit 8200 electronic spy agency); the government of India, the Spanish Ministry of Defense; and Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service.

Endace’s apparent dealings with the Moroccan agency, the DGST, are particularly controversial. Moroccan authorities have been persistently accused over more than five decades of committing a range of severe human rights abuses.

Amnesty International, in a 2015 report, specifically singled out the DGST agency as a key perpetrator of recent abuses, accusing it of detaining people incommunicado and using brutal torture methods that included beatings, electric shocks, sexual violence, simulated drowning, drugging, mock executions, and food and sleep deprivation.

The Little-Known Company That Enables Worldwide Mass Surveillance
[Ryan Gallagher and Nicky Hager/The Intercept]