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Legal action to stop sale of spy technology to brutal regimes

Bureau of Investigative Journalism
Publication date: 
Jack Serle
Original story link: 

Human rights group Privacy International is preparing to take legal action against the British government for failing to control exports of sophisticated spy technology to brutal regimes.

Legislation allows the British government to restrict or stop exports if they are capable of aiding repression or breaches of human rights. But the NGO says that despite repeated requests the government has failed to take any concrete steps to stop British surveillance technology being exported to oppressive regimes.

Privacy International lawyers have contacted the Business Secretary Vince Cable, giving the government 21 days before filing for a judicial review of their inaction. The rights group may also seek an injunction to stop British companies maintaining and updating the systems they have already sold.

British firms are part of a highly secretive international industry. Bureau analysis of marketing brochures released by Wikileaks and Privacy International revealed the scale of the industry, worth £3.2bn worldwide.