Our Approach to Exports

Searching for the truth in a complex world

Magnet Forensics was founded by a police officer struggling to lawfully recover critical digital evidence in a timely fashion in child sexual exploitation online and human trafficking cases with the existing tools available.

Helping the victims of these heinous crimes was the initial intent behind the innovation that led to the creation of the company. But what was realized is that the advancement of digital forensics could be a game-changer in the pursuit of justice. Beyond supporting victims of crimes growing in the digital age, such primary evidence has the ability to close the levels of doubt in successful convictions and exonerating the innocent.

Seeking justice is not just a corporate moniker for Magnet Forensics. It’s core to who we are. Fundamental to that pursuit is helping our customers surface the truth.

But the reality is that the definition of justice and its application differs from country to country.  For Magnet Forensics, one of the greatest challenges we face is deciding where and to whom we sell our digital forensics products globally. 

For those countries that are largely isolated from the global economy, the solution is simple.  Magnet Forensics abides by all export sanctions and controls placed on us by the legal jurisdictions we operate in.  Further, we do not circumvent the spirit of those laws by exporting our software tools from countries who do allow such exports to the isolated countries or specific entities.

The more challenging piece is around countries with whom we are legally allowed to transact with but have concern about the country’s track record in upholding human-rights, especially the rule of law.    

We at Magnet Forensics reserve the right to not sell our products to customers or in jurisdictions despite having the legal ability to do so and we have exercised this right.

We look to understand the human rights situation and the respect for the rule of law in countries where we are exporting our digital forensics tools to, leveraging government and respected third parties’ reports. Ultimately, that call is made by an independent member of the Magnet team who is not compensated based on sales opportunities.

It’s difficult to overlook things like blatant cronyism by government officials or the marginalization of ethnic minorities.  But engagement has its benefits over a longer time horizon. Digital forensics has a role to play. Surfacing facts in the justice sector, is a cause worthy of pursuit. 

For example, a digital forensics report exonerating a political dissident held on trumped up charges in an autocratic regime may not be enough to secure their freedom. But it may compel a police officer or judge to blow the whistle on the abuse of the rule of law.

In recent years, media reports about surveillance technologies being exported to less democratic countries that have enabled human rights abuses has given us serious pause for concern. We reviewed our own policies and procedures as a result.

We know that surveillance tools are fundamentally different than digital forensics tools and have a greater potential to be abused. But this does not absolve us of from the risk of our tools being improperly used. While it would be easier to simply stop exporting our tools to countries that pose any risk, we decided to continue to engage with caution because we believe that supporting those in a society whose purpose is to pursue the truth and justice is a worthy cause relative to the known risks.              

This is not to suggest that we will sell our products in any country or to any entity it is legal to do so. Nor are we suggesting we are perfect in assessing our customers.  A decision to sell our tools in a given country in the past may not present well now given the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. We continuously review our approach and course correct where possible. But we also take solace from Gandhi’s maxim that the “truth never damages a cause that is just”. It reminds us of the importance of our mission in surfacing the truth, helping seek justice and spreading our tools and values in our complex world.