Tech Firms Urge Government to Cut Encryption Red Tape

Tech Firms Urge Government to Cut Encryption Red Tape

Technology trade association techUK has called on government ministers to cut export red tape on products incorporating encryption in order to make the UK more competitive, as a separate white paper urges the European Commission to revise its stance on cybersecurity export controls.

With the digital economy responsible for roughly a quarter of the UK’s exports, the nation’s firms can’t afford the lengthy license approvals process needed for many products containing encryption, techUK argued.

With export procedures significantly more “liberal” in other countries, this is impacting the competitiveness of UK firms, according to the body.

It argued for an “Open General Export Licence” to cover specific comms equipment alongside clear guidance to help industry better understand which items require licensing.

The news comes as industry group Digital Europe launched a new positioning paper calling on the European Commission to modify its proposals to tighten restrictions on the export of so-called “dual-use” technologies.

Like the Wassenaar Arrangement, the proposals are designed to limit the export of technologies such as intrusion software, to repressive regimes which may use them to monitor dissidents and activists.

However, the Commission’s proposals could create legal uncertainty and problems for harmonization across Europe thanks to poor definitions for terms like “cyber-surveillance” technologies, “licensing criteria,” and “Intangible Technology Transfers,” techUK argued.

Poorly defined “catch-all” controls and technical assistance will actually work to restrict the ability of firms to export tools to enhance cybersecurity without safeguarding human rights around the world, it added.

What’s more, the proposals aren’t even in line with the Wassenaar Arrangement, and feature a newly created category, Annex 1 category 10, which will make it difficult for exporters to align with the countries they’re dealing with, the tech group said.

This area continues to prove a major stumbling block around the world, with the negotiators failing to find a breakthrough last year in discussions on the 41-country Wassenaar pact – despite the US leading efforts to agree on new language.

Source: Information Security Magazine