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13 Dez 2023

BHRRC calls for the CSDDD to cover downstream impacts of technology

As the Trilogue negotiations on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) reach concluding stages, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre repeats its call for the CSDDD to cover the full value chain, including downstream, so technology companies can be effectively held accountable for human rights and environmental abuses...

This is especially crucial for due diligence in the technology sector, where many of the most severe human rights risks are present in the downstream value chain. Many technology companies and investors already recognise this, but companies still do not have enough of an incentive to act on the voluntary standards to which they have agreed. The EU needs to level the playing field and require that companies mitigate risks to our economies, human rights, and democracies.

To be most effective, the CSDDD should require that companies carry out risk-based HRDD regarding the downstream impacts of their technology products and services, including impacts resulting from their design, development, marketing, sale, deployment, use, maintenance and disposal by themselves or others. We have followed with concern the attempts to narrow the CSDDD’s downstream value chain concept, especially by the Council, and urge you to conclude provisions that cover technology impacts downstream comprehensively... A directive that does not require companies whose most salient human rights and environmental impacts are downstream to address these, will fail to establish a full risk-based approach and a level playing field between all types of companies.

While we understand that there are other pieces of legislation that will impact the technology sector, such as the EU AI Act, these pieces of legislation complement each other; they are not repetitive, nor should they be treated as a replacement for the other...

1) Full downstream HRDD is necessary to fill the gaps in existing and pending EU regulations that address the negative impacts of technology. [...]

2) To prevent abuse, technology companies must consider the potentially nefarious end-uses of their products and services before engaging with high-risk clients or in high-risk contexts. [...]

3) The CSDDD has to complement existing consumer protection standards to ensure protection from human rights abuses after the point of sale. [...]

4) Technology companies need to conduct full downstream HRDD to build evidence for ending rights-abusing business relationships, especially during conflict. [...]

5) Full downstream HRDD is necessary to ensure that the strength of CSDDD protections remains relevant for the technology sector. [...]

[full letter attached]