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Arms Deal Sets Limits on Cyber Technologies

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The UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHWQ), the center of the British Government's Signal Intelligence activities.

The 41 signatories to the Wassenaar Agreement have agreed to require technology companies to get permission from governments to sell security and surveillance software.

Credit: David Goddard/Getty Images

Western governments have agreed to additions to the Wassenaar Arrangement that will require technology companies to get permission from governments to sell a range of security and surveillance software.

The 41 Wassenaar signatories, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and most European Union nations, have agreed to halt the sales of Internet "communications surveillance systems" and "intrusion software," which are the kind of programs used by the U.S. National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ. As part of the agreement, any software that mines metadata will be restricted, as will programs designed to home in on an individual's Internet activity and data, as well as software designed to inflict damage on computers, networks, or the real-world machinery they control.

Government officials are particularly worried that technologies may end up in the hands of terrorist groups or hostile organizations and be used to dismantle western surveillance operations or stage cyberattacks. The proliferation of sensitive cyber technologies is the biggest concern of the U.S. government, says Eric Rosenbach, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy.

From Financial Times
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