For those who have been seeking transparency and accountability for public surveillance, the Swiss Government has recently been forced to publish a list of export licenses for surveillance technologies, including details of their cost and destination.
But now the Swiss are going one step further.
In May a new directive was introduced to tighten up regulations on the export of internet and mobile monitoring equipment. What this means is that Swiss authorities must reject companies’ requests to export internet and mobile surveillance technologies if there “are reasonable grounds to believe” that the items could be used for repression in the country of destination.
The European Union (EU) and its member states are this year considering whether or not to take similar steps to restrict the export of surveillance technologies. The decision by the Swiss Federal Council serves as a strong reminder to the EU that parallel reform is badly needed at the European level.
And just last month, this new directive was used for the first time when Switzerland halted the export of mobile phone monitoring technology to Vietnam and Bangladesh out of fears it could be misused.