Intersections of the 3. By Margaret Hagan

Posts Tagged: Export controls

What Syrian Activists want from Silicon Valley

What Syrian Activists want from Silicon Valley


Blue Coat Filtering in Syria & Burma: A Citizen Lab Report

Citizen Lab reports on California-based company Blue Coat’s tech equipment that has ended up in Syria and Burma to filter the Internet and other electronic communication.


Despite an embargo firmly in place against Syria, somehow the Syrian government has been using proxy and filtering devices from US company BlueCoat to track and censor their citizens during the past months of activism.

The Syrian Telecommunications Establishment may well have gotten them second hand, meaning the company didn’t violate any law — but for now BlueCoat has decided to deny that their equipment is being used in Syria at all, despite logs published by Telecomix to the contrary

Leila Nachawati provides a full report over at Global Voices Advocacy.



The EU Parliament will implement new export restrictions on companies’ export of surveillance technologies to countries with a record of human rights violations. 

If an EU company that wants to sell tech that could be used to monitor citizens’ phone calls, text messages and internet activity, they will need approval not only from their national governments — but they will also need to declare it to the EU within 30 days of the goods’ departure from the EU. 

No EU-level pre-export approval is required, though.  The new control applies to export to countries which are subject to a general arms embargo.



Jillian York writes an op-ed for al-Jazeera on the state of different US non-governmental and legislative efforts to regulate US companies’ export of technology that could be used for surveillance or repression.

Non-governmental efforts, like multi-stakeholder efforts including the Global Network Initiative and the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, haven’t shown themselves to have much effect on the companies’ human rights concerns in their foreign exports.  Voluntary codes don’t seem to work

Governmental efforts haven’t come into much force yet — Congress is revisiting the proposed Global Online Freedom Act this year, with the Secretary of State & Secretary of Commerce designating certain countries as having a bad enough record on ‘Internet freedom’ that tech exports to them should be restricted.  Exporting companies would have to apply for a special license to export to these flagged countries.

York & company are still worried that there may be bias in the designation — that US allies will never be subject to the restrictions, whatever their record on surveillance and human rights.

Source: http

Congress' updated Global Online Freedom Act

Congress' proposed Global Online Freedom Act, 2007


From the conference “Human Rights & the International Trade in Security & Surveillance Technology - Case Study: China”, from autumn 2005: 

A quick review of different Western governments’ policy mechanisms, to regulate what tech gets exported to China — especially when there might be human rights implications from the sale.

In Europe there are:

1. EU’s Code of Conduct for Arms Exports, adopted in 1998, which makes special reference to human rights concerns including specific references to international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights.

2. The OSCE’s Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons also makes reference to human rights and requires states to consider proposed exports of small arms in light of the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the recipient country. While surveillance and security technology may not be considered as “small arms”, this potentially could be extended to some tech.

3. Privacy laws and directives, which could be used to regulate China’s use of surveillance technology.  Some of these include the EU Directive, the OECD guidelines, the APEC Guidelines, the Conference on Data Commissioners, and the ISO Standardization Processes.

In Canada there are other export controls:

1. The export control list is developed through participation in the Wassenaar Arrangement. The Wassanaar process revises its list of dual-use technologies and munitions annually and Canada complies with its recommendations. Other military products or technology exported from Canada require a permit that is evaluated on a case-by-case basis (with some exceptions) using human rights and other criteria. While there is no policy of embargo, an area control list exists.