cyber-security 20 July 2017

Human rights groups urge surveillance tech reform

Human rights groups have sent an open letter to the European Commission and Member States urging that rules on the export of surveillance technology be tightened.

The groups, including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, State Watch and Privacy International,  say that they are ‘…extremely concerned that little has changed since civil society first recognised the need to modernise current EU rules governing the export of surveillance equipment as far back as 2011 during the Arab Awakening.’

They add: ‘As the European Commission has since proposed reforms to the current system specifically aimed “to prevent human rights violations associated with certain cyber-surveillance technologies”, we urge member states 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.’

The letter cites examples of abuses of the technology from Mexico, Macedonia, the UAE and Bahrain, and makes a number of recommendations to policy-makers, including that proposed reforms to EU export controls are expedited, and include provisions which:


  • Deny export licences where there is a substantial risk of human rights violations
  • The EU export control list is updated to include all relevant surveillance technologies
  • ‘Clear and enforceable safeguards for the export of information and communication technology used for legitimate purposes and internet security research’ are included in any new regulation.


The letter is at: