Today the INTA committee adopted its position to update the export control system on dual use items. You can read an unofficial version of the position here. MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) has been pushing for a fundamental reform of the system, which would take into account the human rights and security risks of the proliferation of cyber-surveillance technologies.
Human rights concerns
Schaake: “Too often we have seen cyber-surveillance technologies exported from the European Union to repressive regimes which use them to spy on and hack their own citizens, journalists or human rights defenders. The Parliament now takes a clear position that this has to stop. It will always prove difficult to make sure that the legislative process keeps up with technological developments, but I am glad we are finally addressing this problem”.
Remove encryption from the control list
The parliament endorses the Commission’s proposal to introduce a General Export Authorization for encryption tools, and wants to go even further in the future. Schaake: “In the 21st century it does not make sense anymore to control the export of encryption products. That’s why the Parliament’s goal in this reform process is to delete cryptography items from the relevant international control lists as soon as possible”.
Transparency and scrutiny
Some Member States already publish a lot of information on exports which fall under this regulation, while other Member States publish little to nothing. Schaake: “By strengthening the export control criteria, as well as by increasing transparency and information sharing about licenses, we will finally be able to get more insight in this often shady business.”
Avoid unintended consequences for security researchers
Schaake: “Introducing controls on new cyber-surveillance tools should never have an impact on the work of security researchers. By introducing new safeguards which exclude network and ICT security research from the scope of the Regulation, and clarifying the definitions of cyber-surveillance, we ensure no legitimate security researcher is targeted by the reform of the export control regime."
- See Schaake’s interactive timeline on the export control review process here.
- See Schaake’s debate with the Commission on the Hacking Team revelations here.
- In 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 MEP Schaake
- Earlier Schaake asked security researchers for suggestions on how to improve the current regime, and she organized and hosted a hearing in the Parliament on the same topic.