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Campaign group calls for clampdown on surveillance tech exports

Privacy International gives Government until 6 August to respond to concerns or face legal proceedings.

Time for change

Privacy International wants the Government to introduce tighter export controls to help regulate the sale of surveillance technology overseas.

The privacy campaign group has threatened to commence legal proceedings against the Government unless it immediately imposes export controls on surveillance equipment.

In a statement to IT Pro, Privacy International confirmed the Government has until Monday 6 August to provide a "substantive response" to the letter or face possible legal proceedings.

The group has enlisted the help of legal firm Bhatt Murphy, who has written to the business secretary Vince Cable on Privacy International's behalf.

The letter claims that export controls have "not kept pace with the developments in this technology or the related growth of the industry," which is estimated to be worth around $3 billion.

"As a consequence, surveillance equipment and technology is now being exported from the UK by British companies to repressive regimes around the world without any controls," the letter claimed.

"Privacy International believes this equipment is being used by repressive foreign governments for a wide range of abuses."

The letter goes on to give examples of countries where, it is claimed, the surveillance technology produced by one UK firm has been used.

"We would also be grateful for your confirmation...that you [the Government] will be immediately imposing export controls in relation to surveillance equipment," the letter states.

"In the event that you are not prepared to confirm this, we would be grateful if you could provide reasons as to why."

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