Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology

Global Politics, Law and International Relations

Edited by Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth

In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. This contemporary Research Handbook offers new insights into well-established debates by framing them in terms of human rights. It examines the issues posed by the management of key Internet resources, the governance of its architecture, the role of different stakeholders, the legitimacy of rule making and rule-enforcement, and the exercise of international public authority over users. Highly interdisciplinary, its contributions draw on law, political science, international relations and even computer science and science and technology studies.
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Chapter 15: Digital technologies, human rights and global trade? Expanding export controls of surveillance technologies in Europe, China and India

Ben Wagner and Stéphanie Horth


Historically, global trade has not had a strong value-based focus, whether on human rights or for that matter any other values in general. Trade-oriented institutions and legal mechanisms have historically been almost exclusively economically oriented. The chapter provides an overview of the increasing role of human rights and digital technology in export control regimes over the past two decades and how this has led to the expansion of export controls of surveillance technologies. It takes a particularly close look at the EU debate on export controls, human rights and digital technologies, before looking at China and India which also implement similar restrictions of digital technologies. The chapter also discusses the challenges with regard to export controls in the areas of human security, cryptography regulation, transparency, participation and governance, as well as the appropriate size and scope of the relevant regime. In conclusion, while not a panacea for all challenges related to human rights in digital technologies, export controls of surveillance technologies can provide an important element of such protection.

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