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SXSW Interactive 2013

Cryptowars Déjà Vu: Controlling Exports of Tech

We now know that technology plays an important role in activism, allowing for ease of communication and the rallying of support, among other things. In the 2009 Iran protests and the current conflicts in Syria and Sudan, activists and citizen journalists have taken advantage of the wealth of tech available, but existing export controls nonetheless continue to prevent important communications technologies from reaching activists and dissidents.

These export controls—enacted by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce and detailed here—often hurt the very individuals they’re meant to help, by restricting access for citizens while doing little to stop authoritarian regimes from getting ahold of products via third parties or on the black market.

This panel will offer perspectives on how technology companies can be proactive in ensuring equal access to communications technology for all of the world's citizens.

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  1. What are (some) technology companies doing right?
  2. What options to companies have to ensure their tools are getting in the right hands (and avoiding
  3. What can civil society groups do to help technology companies apply for export licenses?
  4. When are sanctions on technology justified and when is it just plain discrimination?
  5. What's the end game - Should sanctions on technology be eased or abolished?



Jillian York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Meta Information:

  • Tags: law
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Community and Activism
  • Level: Advanced
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