By Heini Järvinen

A campaign against the export of surveillance and oppressive technologies to dictators has recently been launched in Brussels, called The Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports (CAUSE). The campaign is coordinated by a coalition of organisations that includes EDRi member Digitale Gesellschaft, Amnesty International, Open Technology Institute and Privacy International. The objective of the campaign is to hold governments and private companies accountable for abuses of surveillance technology, said to be worth $3-$5 billion annually in international trade.

“Through a growing body of evidence, it’s clear to see how widely these surveillance technologies are used by repressive regimes to ride roughshod over individuals’ rights,” said Kenneth Page from Privacy International. “The unchecked development, sale and export of these technologies is not justifiable. Governments must swiftly take action to prevent these technologies spreading into dangerous hands.”

In an open letter published on the campaign homepage, CAUSE expresses “grave concern at the development and the irresponsible sale and export of surveillance technologies across the world, where they are being used by oppressive and authoritarian regimes for internal repression of their citizens and in violation of a range of fundamental human rights … The proliferation of these technologies allows for mass surveillance of entire countries, via hacking computers or phones, mapping, profiling and analysing social networks, installing malware allowing for surreptitious extraction of data, and mass Internet monitoring and filtering through the tapping of under-sea fibre-optics cables that carry all communications traffic in and out of countries. These technologies enable regimes to crush dissent or criticism, chill free speech and destroy the fundamental rights that underpin democratic societies.”

The campaign aims to influence governments to take action on these issues and to address serious regulatory shortcomings. It seeks to also encourage private companies to take moral responsibility for the impact of their technology.

Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports
http://www.globalcause.net/

New global coalition urges governments to keep surveillance technologies in check (03.04.2014)
http://en.rsf.org/new-global-coalition-urges-04-04-2014,46086.html

(Contribution by Andrew Walsh – EDRi intern)