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16 Sep 2020

Access Now

Censorship tech company Sandvine’s human rights “commitments” are too little too late

Access Now welcomes news that Sandvine, a California-based filtering and surveillance tech company with roots in Canada, will no longer do business with the government of Belarus... [following] activism... and journalist reports showing Sandvine’s equipment is being used by the Lukashenko regime to shut down the internet and repress protests.

“Ending work with Belarus government is a positive step, but this is far from enough. The harm is already done,” said Natalia Krapiva, Tech Legal Counsel at Access Now. “Now Sandvine needs to address past violations and take clear steps to prevent them in the future. This involves more than ethics board window dressing — including meaningful transparency and due diligence measures. The time has come to hold companies accountable for selling these oppressive technologies to dictators in the first place.”

...Despite Sandvine having revoked its end-user license agreement with the Belarus government, Sandvine’s equipment continues to empower the Lukashenko regime to block access to websites and information online amid its campaign of brutal repression against protesters. Reports indicate that the Lukashenko government has now also ordered telecom service providers to limit access to mobile networks, further restricting access to vital communication channels and information online, and making it difficult to share documentation of security force attacks against protesters.

...Withdrawing its customer support after abuses have already occurred is a necessary but deeply insufficient gesture from a company whose investors have a long track record of failing to protect human rights. Companies have a responsibility to redress the human rights impacts they caused or contributed to, as well as to take adequate measures for prevention and mitigation of potential future harms.