A large majority of the European Parliament has just voted to fundamentally overhaul the European export control system on dual use items. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) welcomes today's vote. She has been pushing for clear rules that also take into account surveillance technologies and human rights criteria.
Schaake: "Surveillance technologies are the weapons of repression of the 21st century. European companies are currently at liberty to sell such technologies to nearly any buyer, including known human rights violators. Because these companies often fly under the radar, European rules urgently need to put an end to such practices and ensure these technologies do no fall into the wrong hands."
Digital weapons from Europe
During the 2009 protests in Iran and the Arab world a few years later, European spyware was found to have been used by regimes to trace and arrest people at an alarming scale. Schaake has been working for tighter export control rules for so-called 'dual-use items' ever since.
Schaake: "From Egypt to Iran and Turkey, governments use European systems to spy on and hack their citizens’ devices. This allows them to muzzle and even arrest journalists, human rights activists as well as ordinary civilians. The European Parliament today puts an end to these practices by regulating the export."
No unintended consequences for researchers
The proposed rules have a specific focus. Schaake: “The new rules should not have a negative impact on legitimate security research. This is why we have introduced safeguards that exclude network and ICT security research from the scope of the Regulation and as well as a clarification of the definitions of cyber-surveillance."
Updating the rules is also an opportunity to facilitate the export of other products, such as encryption tools. Schaake: "The encryption of data is essential in today's digital society and protects the rights of consumers online. We therefor need to stimulate the use of encryption tools. Our end goal is to completely delete cryptography items from the relevant international control lists as soon as possible."
Watch Schaake's intervention in the European Parliament yesterday here.
January 2018: The final report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council setting up a Union regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering, technical assistance and transit of dual-use items (recast) can be found here.
December 2017: The press release after the International Trade Committee adopted its position can be found here.
May 2017: Marietje Schaake proposes amendments to the dual-use regulation, which can be found here. They should be read in conjunction with the Commission’s proposal which can be found here. You can find the annexes to the Commission’s proposal here.
April 2017: In the run-up to the update of the EU regulation that controls the export of dual-use items, the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament provided an opinion to the International Trade Committee. Marietje Schaake is the rapporteur for this opinion. The explanatory statement can be found here and the opinion can be found here.
May 2016: Marietje Schaake organised a hearing in the Parliament on "Real digital security: How to modernise the EU's export control regime and the trade in zero-day vulnerabilities.
December 2015: Marietje Schaake publishes an interactive timeline ("Five years of stopping EU-aided surveillance), which can be found here.
October 2015: Marietje Schaake's plenary speech in the debate with the Commission on the Hacking Team revelations can be found here.
October 2015: Marietje Schaake proposes 12 actions to remedy human rights shortcomings in the EU's dual-use regulation, which can be found here.
September 2015: the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries which was drafted by Marietje Schaake and can be found here.
June 2015: Marietje Schaake asked security researchers for suggestions on how to improve the current regime.