WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, TechFreedom filed comments on the Commerce Department’s Proposed Rule restricting the export of certain cybersecurity technologies. The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) sought comment on the proposal to classify “intrusion technologies,” a broad term that could include defensive countermeasures, under the multilateral Wassenaar Arrangement on arms exports. TechFreedom urged BIS to actually weigh the costs and benefits of its proposed rule, share that analysis in a public report along with a revised rule, and seek public comment on both before issuing its final rule.
“As with all regulation, intentions matter less than results,” said TechFreedom President Berin Szoka. “Restricting the sharing of cybersecurity technologies across borders is a double-edged sword. The intention is noble: to prevent repressive governments from acquiring technologies that can be used as instruments of cyberwarfare or to spy on and censor their own citizens. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to restrict the sharing of offensive capabilities without restricting defensive capabilities, too. One person’s weapon is another’s countermeasure.”
“There’s a vital lesson to be learned here: cost-benefit protects civil liberties, too, not just corporate bottom lines,” concluded Szoka. “From Reagan to Clinton to Obama, Presidents of both parties have recognized the vital importance of cost-benefit analysis. Yet all too many on the political Left have come to dismiss the idea of cost-benefit analysis as code for corporate interests, forgetting that regulation can have very real costs for the development of technologies of freedom, too. A ‘Cost-Benefit State’ doesn’t necessarily mean smaller government, but it definitely means smarter government. It’s critical that Commerce seek comment on a revised rule and a rigorous assessment of the costs and benefits of the new rule.”
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