Photo via hyperscholar
The Brazilian government has tried to get serious about tracking and controlling the logging industry in their country. That includes switching from paper ledgers to computerized tracking systems that monitor quotas for logging companies.
However, high-tech hackers show that getting into the system and rigging the tracking information is easy work. Now, 107 companies are being sued to the tune of $833 million for the illegal logging and smuggling of nearly 1.7 million cubic meters of timer – the equivalent of 780 olympic pools full of felled trees. According to Greenpeace:
Police started investigating the suspect hackers in April 2007, swooping in a couple of months later to arrest 30 ring leaders. One is still in jail - the intermediary who brought the hackers and the loggers together - and in total, 202 people are facing prosecution.
Essentially what they did was falsify transportation permits. The Brazilian system is set up so that companies receive permits to transport their felled trees. The load is measured and that amount of wood is deducted from the total amount allowed. Once a company reaches its quota, it can’t get more permits and therefore can’t make more money by cutting down trees. However, hiring hackers got them around the system for long enough to do some big illegal damage.
It’s not surprising:
According to federal prosecutor Daniel Avelino, many of these companies have a track record of illegal practices: "Almost half of the companies involved in this scam have other law suits pending for environmental crimes or the use of slave labour, amongst other things."
We’ll have to wait for the trial to see if anything will be done to punish the companies and strengthen the tracking system. But it seems that even with their best efforts, such as setting up a satellite system to track deforestation and forbidding banks to give loans to illegal loggers, deforestation rates continue to grow.
Via kind tipster Jamie Woolley and an article on Greenpeace
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