The BASEL System
Palestinians wishing to enter Israel must apply for a magnetic biometric ID card with the Israeli occupation authorities; each electronic ID card contains biometric, personal, and security information. While only a fraction of Palestinians who apply for permits actually receive them, each applicant’s information is kept and stored in a database held by the Israeli authorities. Over the years, Israel has accumulated this information into a population registry that contains information about every Palestinian in the occupied Palestinian territory over the age of 16. The biometric data is also collected as part of the BASEL system (see picture), a biometric access control system, which is installed in major Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. This system is used to restrict Palestinian movement across checkpoints inside the West Bank and to grant or deny special movement privileges (see for example this UN Report). EDS Israel, now part of HP Enterprise Services, is responsible for developing, integrating and maintaining the BASEL system.
The BASEL system is installed in checkpoints deep inside the occupied territory, and is used as part of the separate road system in the West Bank, restricting all Palestinian movement. Although the checkpoints system is often portrayed by Israel as a “security measure,” the main checkpoints are deep inside the occupied territory, restricting movement between Palestinian cities. Palestinians wishing to go into Israel, mostly as day workers, are still able to avoid these and find their way. The checkpoints system, and the BASEL system in it, is a control mechanism used to repress and submit the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied West Bank. See our Separation Wall and Checkpoints page to learn more about how these obstructions deny Palestinian's freedom of movement in their own land, restrict their access to medical care, employment and educations services, and decimate their commerce and economy.
Israeli ID System
In 2008, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior announced a contract with HP to manufacture five million Israeli biometric ID cards. Through its subsidiary EDS, HP also won a contract to systemize the collection of biometric and photographic data for these ID cards. See more about the way these contracts were obtained by HP in the latest Who Profits report: Technologies of Control: HP's involvement in the Israeli Occupation. The Israeli ID system is stratified by ethnicity and religion, and the new biometric database and ID cards system are a part of the state’s systemized and tiered control of ethnic and national minorities.
Under the Israeli ID system, blue IDs designate “Israeli citizens” and orange and green IDs are given to Palestinians in the oPt, provided they have a permit to enter Israel. Blue IDs are not granted to non-Jews in the occupied territory or to non-Jewish descendants of refugees from the area. Granting full citizenship to a small number of Palestinians who were present in the post 1948-war census in their own homes has allowed Israel to deny it to other Palestinians who fled or were forcibly removed during the creation of the state of Israel. As a 2007 UN Report states, over 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, which was annexed into the state of Israel, have not been granted citizenship, and thousands more have been denied citizenship within state borders based on technical restrictions that apply only to non-Jewish residents. In the state’s population registry, ethnicity/nationality is recorded and labeled on state IDs in various ways. The Israeli ID system reinforces the political and economic inequalities between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, Arabs and non-Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, and restricts the mobility of select groups.
Contracts with the Israeli Army
HP has won a series of major contracts with various sections of the Army in the last two years. Among them are a two-year contract to supply all PCs to the army, a three-year virtualization tender, and a contract for the outsourcing of the Navy’s IT infrastructure, including the management and operation of its computer and communications centers, information security, and user support.
The Israeli army and navy are responsible for countless war crimes in Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank. See the following Amnesty International publications related to: Operation Cast Lead, The Siege of Gaza and the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Production in the Settlements
HP provided a computerized storage system to the illegal settlement of Ariel. A subsidiary of a main distributor of HP products, Matrix, has an offshore outsourcing project out of an illegal settlement in the West Bank.
U.S. Prisons and Immigration
HP also profits from the US prison system and aids Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In 2009, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) awarded HP a contract to begin a multimillion-dollar effort to automate and streamline prisoner data systems. The project, called the Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS) replaced over 40 electronic and paper database systems, to create an “Electronic C-file” for inmates and provide the opportunity for electronic data exchange with Jails, Courts and the Office of Prison Healthcare Services. The HP website also describes their provisions for prisons across the country with offender, healthcare, visitor and administrative management and kiosk services through their HP Offender Management service.
Beginning in 2010, HP was awarded a contract by the US Department of Homeland Security ICE Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) to speed up the internal process of deciding a person’s documentation status. Senior vice president Dennis Stolkey described in the HP press release: “HP has deep applications expertise as well as a long, solid history with ICE that will enable us to create the best solution possible for the agency.”
HP is not blameless in other countries as well in regard to technological support of surveillance and population control tactics. In China, HP bid on a contract to be a main supplier of servers or storage equipment for a project called “Peaceful Chongqing,” a plan to install roughly 500,000 cameras throughout the city. The aim, according to officials, is to prevent crime although human-rights advocates warn that it could instead target political activists.
In Iran, a Reuters investigation reveals how HP products were used to create a “powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile, and internet communications.” Along with products from several other technology companies, the HP products were sold to a Chinese corporation, ZTE, which then created and sold the surveillance system to the Telecommunication Co. of Iran (TCI). HP has previously been investigated for using a third party to sell products in Iran, despite U.S. sanctions.
And recently in Syria, HP products have also been used to target political dissidents. As this article reveals, "Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) equipment worth more than $500,000 has been installed in computer rooms in Syria, underpinning a surveillance system being built to monitor e-mails and Internet use..." An Italian company bought the HP equipment in Italy through resellers.
Photos courtesy of Who Profits from the Occupation?