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The market for surveillance technologies has expanded so much in recent years that oversight has been totally unable to keep up, which has led to devastating consequences in the lives of human rights defenders in repressive regimes around the world.

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UPDATE: The past few days have seen more movement in Switzerland. The Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs responded swiftly to our request for official clarification. The SECO confirmed to PI that "all licence requests for the export of technologies for internet monitoring were withdrawn" by the applicants themselves, and that some of the requests for mobile phone monitoring technology have also been withdrawn.

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Political activist and university lecturer Tadesse Kersmo believed that he was free from intrusive surveillance when he was granted political asylum in the UK. Instead, he was likely subject to more surveillance than ever. His case underlines the borderless nature of advanced surveillance technologies and why it represents such a massive problem.

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UK parliamentary select committees are charged with overseeing the work of government in relation to particular topical issues or the work of particular departments. When it comes to UK Government policy on arms, it’s the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) that's responsible: a conglomeration of four select committees made up of serving Members of Parliament that collects evidence and conducts an inquiry into developments in export control policy and the preceding years’ exports of military and dual-use goods.

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Privacy International is currently engaged in a joint project on export controls with the Open Technology Institute and Digitale Gesellschaft. The blog post below was co-written by Edin Omanovic and Tim Maurer and is also available on the OTI blog.

Export controls have something of a bad reputation in technology circles, and not without good reason.

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Update:

After an initial discussion with technical and government experts involved in drafting and negotiating the new controls on “intrusion software”, some of our initial questions have been clarified. To read what they had to say, go here.

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Two new categories of surveillance systems were added into the dual-use goods and technologies control list of the Wassenaar Arrangement last week in Vienna, recognising for the first time the need to subject spying tools used by intelligence agencies and law enforcement to export controls.

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If you were a Middle Eastern tyrant or a Central Asian strongman, and you suddenly found your position of power under threat, where would turn for assistance? Well, Paris, it seems, is actually pretty good start.

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A sizeable political controversy has engulfed President Goodluck Jonathan’s Government in Nigeria, where details surrounding its plans for the total surveillance of Africa’s most populous country continue to emerge.

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This week in London, the world's largest arms fair DSEI rolled into town, bringing together some of the world’s most sophisticated killing and torture equipment with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers.