NGOs urge EU member states & institutions to update export control framework of surveillance equipment to uphold human rights obligations

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24 July 2017

UK: Govt. exported surveillance technology to Turkey amid arrests of journalists & human rights defenders

Author: Joseph Cox, Motherboard

"The UK Granted Spy Tech Export to Turkey Amid Its Massive Crackdown on Dissent"

The UK is a prolific exporter of surveillance technology, ranging from IMSI-catchers that can monitor mobile phones to internet mass surveillance equipment...according to newly published data from the UK's Department for International Trade, the country granted a license to export surveillance technology to Turkey earlier this year. That in itself may not be very surprising—the UK has greenlit surveillance exports to Turkey in the past—but the license comes at a time when Turkey is undergoing a particularly potent wave of crackdowns and oppression against dissent, including the incarceration of journalists and human rights defenders...A Department for International Trade spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, "The UK government takes its defence export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world...We have suspended or revoked licences when the level of risk changes and we constantly review local situations." For Franco from Amnesty, that doesn't fit with the UK granting a recent license to export to Turkey...

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23 July 2017

Open NGO Letter to EU Member States and Institutions Regarding the Export of Surveillance Equipment

Author: Access Now; Amnesty International; Bahrain Center for Human Rights; Bahrain Watch; Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD); Coalizione Italiana Liberta e Diritti Civili (CILD); Digitale Gesellschaft; Gulf Center for Human Rights; Intl. Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); Privacy International; Reporters Without Borders; Social Media Exchange (SMEX); Statewatch

Following the alarming evidence that EU-made electronic surveillance equipment is still being exported to authoritarian countries around the world, we strongly urge all EU member states and institutions to respect their human rights obligations and call on them to prioritise long overdue EU reforms. We are extremely concerned that little has changed since civil society  firstrecognised the need to modernise current EU rules governing the export of surveillance equipment as far back as 2011 during the Arab Awakening. As the European Commission has sinceproposed reforms to the current system specifically aimed “to prevent human rights violations associated with certain cyber-surveillance technologies”, we urge memberstates to refrain from any further delays in the process and to ensure that states throughout the European Union prevent surveillance exports that pose risks to human rights....

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