This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

MEP: European export controls spying technology needed

Member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66), wants the European Commission to push ahead with a strategy to control the export of spying technology and systems that can be used to break into mobile phones and computers without authorisation from the user. Yesterday the Parliament approved a revision of the current legislation for export controls. Schaake: “European companies are making software and other technology that is used to spy and hack all over the world. Currently, these kinds of products can be exported almost freely from the EU. It is ironic that the EU is accused of overregulation, while this trade happens in a legislative vacuum. In oppressive regimes, European products are being used to repress citizens and restrict fundamental freedoms. On top of that, these technologies can be used against European strategic interests and digital infrastructure.” Fragmentation Schaake believes the revision that the Parliament approved yesterday is not ambitious enough, she wants export controls policy to be less fragmented. “Controlling the export of potentially dangerous goods is now done at the national level. If one member state refuses to give a licence, it can be approved by another. We need to make sure we have stronger rules, a level playing field and that we increase transparency about which technology is and is not exported. In this way, we can force governments and companies to justify the choices they make and increase accountability.” The European Commission has said it will put forward a new proposal in the coming months. “We need to keep up the pressure and make sure we follow through to really address the roots of the problems we face”, says the MEP. Definitions Controlling software and technology is a tricky affair because it is difficult to get the definitions exactly right to make sure that dangerous products are covered, while not making harmless software fall under the regulation. Schaake: “As a liberal, I am against overregulation, especially when it comes to the internet. But many companies that make these technologies are basically modern day arms dealers and do not even try to hide what their products are capable of when they advertise them. Retaining the status quo is really just unacceptable. I am convinced we can find the right wording to make sure that European technology cannot be sold to repressive regimes so easily, while at the same time making sure that harmless software can still be freely exchanged.”