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US cedes markets for oppressive biometric surveillance goods to others

US cedes markets for oppressive biometric surveillance goods to others

The U.S. government no longer will offer incentives to domestic companies selling biometric surveillance and related goods to other nations with poor human rights records.

Officials with the International Trade Administration, which promotes exporting, in September issued an internal document laying out factors to consider before helping a company sell biometric surveillance products.

The switch is based on a 1961 law banning assistance to U.S. organizations considering sales of strategic goods to foreign security forces “where there is credible information” linking them to gross violations of human rights.

The ITA illustrates a number of factors that should now trigger a review for federal assistance. Officials are watching for would-be government buyers who might be involved in extrajudicial killing, rape under the color of the law, torture or forced disappearances.

Among the product category sales that can be derailed are biometric tracking and AI surveillance. China has been the U.S.’ dominant competitor for sales to nations using the technology for oppression.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and activist-journalism publication Mother Jones had pushed for the policy change.

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