Battle Heats Up Over Exports of Surveillance Technology

Silicon Valley is resisting federal plans to increase regulations on exports of “dual use” technology like servers and software used in social media that can also be used for spying.

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Ayman Ammar and Rashid Albuni claimed to be computer technology distributors, operating through multiple corporations in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The United States government, though, charged them with smuggling — of illegally shipping American equipment to the Syrian government that can help it monitor Internet traffic and spy on dissidents.  The Syrian case, in which the two men were fined last month for violating American economic sanctions against Syria, is one of the few the Obama administration has pursued to limit authoritarian governments from acquiring technology that enables censoring, spying and hacking.  That is largely because many of the same tools that repressive governments seek from Western companies are vital for social media and other communications by political protesters and grass-roots organizers throughout the world. The software and other equipment are also used by American and other law enforcement agencies to track criminals or disrupt plots, and are needed to filter out unwanted content from most commercial and governmental networks and to keep them secure.  Such dual-use technology is now at the center of a conflict between Silicon Valley and the administration over additional restraints on technology exports. The administration signed an international agreement in 2013 that calls for new curbs on exports of advanced surveillance technology to governments with troubling human rights records. The agreement adds the technology to a longstanding arms control pact that seeks to limit weapons exports to such governments.  Some argue that the global market for such technology is emerging as a 21st century version of the arms trade. To go along with their tanks, assault helicopters and fighter jets, repressive governments are now seeking the latest routers, servers and software from Silicon Valley or Europe.

See on Scoop.itInternet of Things – Technology focus


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