White House to unveil alliance to curb human rights abuse of tech

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's efforts to ease supply chain issues during the holiday season, at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The White House will unveil a group of countries next week that have pledged to work together to curb exports of technology that can be used by bad actors and repressive governments to violate human rights, senior administration officials said on Thursday.

The announcement, which will be made as part of U.S. President Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy, is aimed at addressing "the misuse of certain dual-use technologies that can lead to human rights abuses" and ensuring "critical and emerging technologies work for and not against democratic societies," the officials told reporters in a briefing call.

The officials declined to name the countries that would join the group or the technologies or users targetted by it, but said members would develop and adopt a "written nonbinding code of conduct or statement of principles intended to guide the application of human rights criteria to export licensing policy."

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The officials singled out China as an example of a nation that has misused technology to control its population.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration added Chinese companies to a trade blacklist for enabling human rights abuses against Uigher Muslims and added Burmese entities following the coup there. In October, it released a rule to control the export of items used for malicious cyber activities.

The administration invited just over 100 government leaders to the virtual Democracy event on Dec. 9 and 10, the first of its kind, which aims to help stop democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide. The list does not include China or Russia.

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Reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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