The governments of the United States, Australia, Denmark and Norway will be establishing a voluntary and nonbinding written code of conduct around technology to prevent human rights abuses, they said in a joint statement on Friday.
They wrote, “We, Australia, Denmark, Norway, and the United States, recognize that advanced technologies are a vital part of global economic growth and communication, helping people become more interconnected, share knowledge, and advance freedom, democracy, and opportunity. Legitimate trade in these technologies, and responsible use, is essential for the well-being of our future generations. At the same time, authoritarian governments increasingly are using surveillance tools and other related technologies in connection with serious human rights abuses, both within their countries and across international borders, including in acts of transnational repression to censor political opposition and track dissidents. Such use risks defeating the benefits that advanced technologies may bring to the world’s nations and peoples.
“Over the coming year of action, we commit to working to establish a voluntary, nonbinding written code of conduct around which like-minded states could politically pledge, to use export control tools to prevent the proliferation of software and other technologies used to enable serious human rights abuses. In addition, we will use the year of action to consult with industry and academia in our efforts.”
The statement added that the governments of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have expressed support for the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative.