By endorsing amendments proposed by Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) the European Parliament wants EU export control regulation to include additional binding export controls for technologies that are used by authoritarian regimes to monitor, track and trace citizens. Companies should ask for export authorization if they have reasons to believe that certain exports might harm human rights. The Parliament also calls for an EU-wide application of the additional licensing requirements, EU Member States are obliged to block exports of technologies to countries facing emergency situations. “This is a big step forward in our battle against digital arms trade. It is unacceptable that regimes in Syria and Iran can use European technologies to violate human rights, let alone that European companies are actively involved in that”, Schaake Says.
Schaake proposed changes to a regulation that lays down a framework for EU export controls for dual-use items, traditionally goods that could also be used to build weapons of mass destruction or for the enrichment of uranium. Schaake: “When in the wrong hands certain technologies can become effective weapons. Though the enormous potential of the internet and technologies to connect people globally, strenghten checks on power and improve free spech should not be ignored” In all the Arabic counties and the Middle East where we have witnessed monumental changes, dictatorships used technologies to crack down against people. “Also in countries like Ethiopia, Sudan and Cuba this use of ICTs for repression is rampant. Iran is building a ‘Halal-internet’, disconnected from the world wide web. The required technology, infrastructure, knowhow or operational support should no longer come from within the EU.”
The control of European exports is an important part of the first strategy that seeks to anchor and maintream the promotion and protection of digital freedom in the EU’s foreign policy. “The new borderlessness online world also has its darker sides”, Schaake explains. “Context is essential in our understanding. The concept of ‘lawful interception’ in the EU allows the police to intercept ICTs, but it does not apply in countries where the rule of law is absent. It is of fundamental importance that politicians and companies are aware of this new reality and will act responsibly.”