Nations to review cyber export rules

Nations to review cyber export rules
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The nations behind an export agreement are meeting to discuss a controversial cybersecurity provision.

The 41 countries that are part of the Wassenaar Arrangement gathered in Vienna on Monday to review a number of changes to the agreement, which is updated every December.

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The little-known agreement has come under the spotlight after a 2013 update added export controls on militarized spyware and other surveillance tools. Supporters hoped to prevent oppressive regimes from getting their hands on such technology, but critics said the language would hurt businesses that also use those tools to test their software and cybersecurity.

While the language related to cybersecurity products is the highest profile topic being discussed, it is not the only item on the agenda. The export agreement covers a wide variety of dual-use, military and civilian technologies. People familiar with the negotiations say that dozens of proposed changes to all aspects of the arrangement are on the table.

The United States delegation includes representatives from the departments of State, which traditionally negotiates the deal; Commerce, which is tasked with implementing it; and Homeland Security, as well as members of the security industry.  

Commerce announced plans to implement the 2013 rules last year.

That decision was immediately met by complaints from industry groups, with agencies including Homeland Security and House lawmakers also joining on industry’s side.