Equipment and technology from telecommunications firm Nortel is being used by the Chinese Government to monitor its citizens, according to report by a Canadian human rights group. The report - China's Golden Shield , published by Montreal-based Rights & Democracy - acknowledged that most of the world's largest technology companies actively market their wares to the central government and its public security bureaus. However, the report details Nortel's co-operation with China on developing voice recognition software, which the authors said was aimed at monitoring telephone conversations and providing equipment to monitor and control access to the Internet and software for transmitting images from closed-circuit cameras. Rights & Democracy said such technologies interfered with citizens' rights of free association and free speech. The report's release was timed to coincide with the gathering of government heads and industry leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum in Shanghai this week. A US$10 million network built in Shanghai in time for the Apec summit includes Nortel's Shasta 5000 firewall, which allows authorities to monitor traffic passing to and from specific computers 'in direct conflict with the right to privacy', the report said. 'This technology will also make it more difficult for dissidents to have clandestine communications and facilitate police monitoring of Internet users attempting to access URLs not judged appropriate by the Chinese Government.' Jolia Kua, a spokeswoman for Nortel in Asia, said no equipment was customised for the China market and customers there were offered the same products available elsewhere in the world. 'We sell in China the same products we sell everywhere else and we believe that it benefits the people and the country as a whole,' she said. Ms Kua declined to discuss the report's specifics or to comment on the allegation that the Chinese Government used technology to suppress human rights. 'It's the same technology we sell everywhere and people will have to draw their own conclusions.' Nortel had announced US$1.4 billion in China contracts this year, she said. The report said Nortel also was a strong and early supporter of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations in its work on technologies for intercepting phone conversations, and has plans to transfer this technology to China through its joint venture in Guangdong province. The Chinese Government is among the largest customers for multinational technology companies in the mainland. Co-operation on technology development is also common. Sun Microsystems has helped 33 provincial security bureaus build a computer network that includes a database of fingerprints. The report said many companies believed their presence in China could bring about positive change, but the authors said helping build these systems might undermine any democratic influence and harm those with dissident opinions.