The U.S. intends to lead an international effort to limit exports of surveillance instruments that authoritarian countries can use to suppress political dissidents, The Wall Street Journal reports.
This initiative will be made public at the Summit for Democracy. It is a virtual gathering of friend nations that takes place next Thursday and Friday. The summit will include more than 100 democracies.
Biden administration officials stated that the initiative will allow participating countries to share information about technologies used by authoritarian nations in order to curb human rights violations. The officials stated that the effort would also create a code for dealing with export licensing policies.
A senior administration official stated that the U.S.-led effort was prompted by the worldwide growth of digital surveillance.
“Technology is being misused by governments to surveil and, in some cases — as in the case of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] — to control their population,” the official said in a briefing with reporters on Thursday.
China and Russia were not invited and have criticized the summit.
According to a senior Chinese official, it is dividing countries and pointing fingers at others. According to the Associated Press, the ruling Communist Party of China maintained that each nation had its own version of democracy. They will release a report titled “China: Democracy that Works.”
The Journal reported that U.S. firms have given China the tools to establish a surveillance network to monitor political dissidents as well as ethnic minorities.
The newspaper reported that the companies claimed they have no control over how their technology is used.
A senior official of the Biden administration also spoke out in support of the global approach to limiting access to surveillance technology.
“This is a group of like-minded governments who will commit to working together to determine how export controls could better monitor and, as appropriate, restrict the proliferation of such technologies given their increasing misuse by end users in human rights abuses,” the official stated.