US wants allies to restrict exports of surveillance tools

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The US government is reportedly seeking to get other countries to ban the export of surveillance tools to authoritarian countries that could use them to commit human rights violations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Biden administration is expected to “launch an initiative with friendly countries to establish a code of conduct for the coordination of export licensing policies” at the Summit for Democracy event hosted by the United States Department to begin December 9.

The report cites unidentified administrative officials who told the Newspaper that countries participating in this initiative “will also share information on sensitive technologies used against political dissidents, journalists, officials of foreign governments and human rights activists.”

It’s unclear which countries will be part of this initiative initially, but based on existing U.S. policies and the Democracy Summit guest list, it seems likely that export controls will be aimed at preventing the sale of advanced surveillance technologies to Russia and China

This report follows the US Department of Commerce’s addition of NSO Group, Candiru, Positive Technologies and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy to the list of entities for selling their spyware to governments that used it to target journalists, human rights groups and others.

This makes it more difficult for the quartet to do business with American companies. That doesn’t stop them from selling their existing surveillance tools to authoritarian countries, and new export rules expected to be announced at the Democracy Summit could change that.


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