Rights groups demand action on export controls

By EDRi · March 6, 2017

Nine civil society organisations, including EDRi and several EDRi members, have signed a letter to the participants of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime with 41 participating states. We joined Privacy International’s efforts, in expressing concerns that “elements of the current control list of technologies and proposed new additions will have adverse effects on human rights and security.”

In the letter, we acknowledge the need for periodic, open and transparent revisions of export controls in view of technological changes and developments. Tracking and controlling exports is crucial for accountability and minimisation of the threats of uncontrolled trade in advanced surveillance capabilities used for security, law enforcement, and espionage. However, disproportionate and burdensome controls on tools that enhance privacy and security is a threat to global stability, security, and the protection of human rights. Therefore, we encourage the participating states to make a right balance between these legitimate goals and narrowly define the technologies of concern.

The signatories of the letter support restrictions on the proliferation of surveillance technologies. Conversely, it is important that bona fide cybersecurity and security research are not undermined. In this regard, the current language on controls on intrusion software, encryption, and the proposed inclusion of forensic tools needs to be considered. We urge participants of the Wassenaar Arrangement to remove encryption technology from the control list. If adequate language cannot be drafted to capture all considerations, this is likely to mean that intrusion software and forensic tools would have to be excluded from the controls list as well.

We urge participant states to address our concerns prior to theĀ final agreement and the plenary session taking place in December 2017.

Civil society organisations’ letter to the participants of the Wassenaar Arrangement (06.03.2017)

Rights organisations urge export control body to change control list (06.03.2017)