Hivos supports the ‘Stop Digital Arms’ campaign

December 4, 2013

European companies provide the technology that authoritarian regimes use to violate freedom of expression and human rights. Hivos wants Europe to know that we are against the trade in digital arms.

The advanced technology that European telecommunications companies export to authoritarian regimes makes it very easy for them to track and arrest citizens who organise or participate in peaceful protests.

With the latest tracking and tracing software purchased from a European company, sometimes the very companies that make our mobile phones the world over, the security apparatus of an authoritarian regime can find out exactly what their citizens say, where they are and what they are planning. Just by virtue of using internet, mobile phones or texts to communicate, citizens can be arrested and imprisoned, even tortured.

With support from Hivos, German scientist Ben Wagner published a detailed investigation into the trade in digital weapons. What he discovered is that the technology used by regimes such as Iran, Syria and Bahrain to spy on, censor and hack their citizens comes mainly from the European Union. You can download his study in from the documents box in the right sidebar.

Hivos considers it important that arms sales to dictatorial regimes be prohibited. This goes for digital weapons as well as conventional ones. The European Parliament passed a resolution in December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy designed to counteract these exports, but the European Commission and EU Member States have still not paid heed.

Hivos is supporting this campaign to ensure that European companies are not complicit in the violation of our most fundamental rights.