Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) wants objective European standards for the issuing of export licenses. Today the British organisation Privacy International issued a new report about the TRD, a highly secretive unit within Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. The TRD appears to have no legal basis but it does have the biggest budget for surveillance technologies of any Egyptian government body. The report presents evidence that European companies were equipping this unit with advanced surveillance systems.
Lack of accountability and oversight
These new revelations show once again the lack of accountability and oversight of the market in surveillance systems. Especially the Italian export authorities need to get their act together. Schaake: “Which assessment did they do before approving licenses of Hacking Team to countries such as Egypt? Were they aware to which precise entities within the Egyptian government these tools end up with? And if not, how can they properly assess the security and human rights impact of a license request?”
European export control
Schaake has earlier proposed different actions to remedy the human rights shortcomings in the EU’s dual use regulation. Schaake: “This case makes clear that we cannot wait any longer to include human rights criteria in the update of the EU´s export control regime. The EU loses impact and credibility when human rights of journalists, activists and others all over the world risk being tracked by secret security services that are using technologies that were made in Europe.”
Schaake is also concerned about the increasing impunity of Egypt’s security agencies, as demonstrated by the recent obstacles into the investigation of the murder and enforced disappearance of Italian student Giulio Regeni. “European Member States should suspend all military and surveillance export licenses to all end users in Egypt until an independent investigation into this case has been concluded. Allowing sales of surveillance systems to countries in which security agencies act with impunity should never be legal.”