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Global Network Initiative 2012 Learning Forum: Digital Freedoms in International Law

18 Jun 2012

Speaking at the New America Foundation, Professor Ian Brown discusses a report, which he authored with Douwe Korff of the London Metropolitan University, that developed recommendations for companies, governments, and civil society organisations to preserve digital freedom in international law. Brown first reviews the various relevant legal norms, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has broad coverage around the world, though with varying degrees of compliance. He then tackles the contentious issue of US/EU equipment exports to repressive regimes, an action that has been criticised as facilitating mass Internet surveillance and censorship; however, Brown highlights that many of these technologies are dual use, for they can be employed in legitimate law enforcement, network management, and security purposes as well. He concludes by summarising the report’s recommendations, which include having states extend the purposes of international arms control regimes to the protection of human rights (e.g. potentially through amending the Wassenaar arrangement) and consider including technologies that have primary or significant potential uses for human rights violations in ‘dual use’ export control regimes.