Advancing Human Rights-by-Design in the Dual-Use Technology Industry

Columbia Journal of International Affairs, Forthcoming

10 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018

See all articles by Jon Penney

Jon Penney

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; Citizen Lab, University of Toronto; Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Sarah McKune

University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab

Lex Gill

University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab

Ronald J. Deibert

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Date Written: July 24, 2018

Abstract

It is no secret that technology companies have greased the wheels for human rights abuses around the world — backed by a global web of private sector support and investment that has yielded significant financial returns. For example, the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab recently published research analyzing the use of Internet filtering technology developed by Canadian company Netsweeper in ten countries globally — Afghanistan, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen — and concluded these uses likely violated international human rights law. Products like Netsweeper’s Internet filtering systems are often referred to as "dual use" technologies: though they may serve legitimate societal objectives in some cases, they also used to undermine human rights like freedom of expression and privacy. Yet Netsweeper is but one example among a growing number of such dual-use tech companies, within a wider and complex cyber security industry, prepared to facilitate mass censorship and surveillance — and increasingly doing so with the financial backing of specialized and powerful investment firms. This paper cites this and other examples to help document this now billion dollar worldwide market and offers ideas and proposals to help clean it up via stronger human rights norms — including human rights-by-design for dual use technologies — among all stakeholders in the cyber security industry: from governments, to businesses, to their employees and shareholders, to industry associations, and the private investment firms funding it all.

Keywords: Human Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility, Dual Use, Dual Use Technology, Cybersecurity, Information Security, Private Sector, Financing, Shareholders, Investors, Investment Firms

JEL Classification: F00, F3, K33

Suggested Citation

Penney, Jonathon and McKune, Sarah and Gill, Lex and Deibert, Ronald J., Advancing Human Rights-by-Design in the Dual-Use Technology Industry (July 24, 2018). Columbia Journal of International Affairs, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3218975

Jonathon Penney (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Citizen Lab, University of Toronto ( email )

Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7
Canada

Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy ( email )

C231A E-Quad
Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA Nova Scotia 02138
Canada

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Canada

Sarah McKune

University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab ( email )

Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Lex Gill

University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab ( email )

Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Ronald J. Deibert

University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy ( email )

315 Bloor Street W.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7
Canada
4169468916 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://deibert.citizenlab.ca/

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