Export Control

Discussion Prompt: To what extent can and should surveillance technology be subject to export control? 

For tyrants, and those who would like to be one, digital technology has ushered in a new era of social and political control. Around the world, authoritarian regimes persecute journalists and dissidents and violate the rights of minorities with sophisticated surveillance tools, from government malware to facial recognition and from Stingrays to IMSI catchers. European countries, particularly the UK, Germany, and France, are among the key suppliers of these technologies. Despite the implementation of stricter export controls for European companies since 2011 after the Arab Spring exposed the degree to which European technology aided the crackdown of protests much government oppression continues to be “Made in the EU”. With global trade in AI-enabled surveillance flourishing, what are the regulatory options for ensuring that surveillance technology produced in Europe will not be used to assail fundamental human rights elsewhere? And what are the practical obstacles to their effective implementation and enforcement?