European Parliament tightens spyware export controls

The European Parliament announced that it is taking steps to limit the export of surveillance technologies, including spyware, outside the European Union.

This measure paves the way for the European Union to establish new ground rules for the sale of so-called dual-use technologies, which can be used in legitimate or harmful ways that violate human rights.

Markéta Gregorovà, a member of the European Parliament, said in a statement: The premise of the new rules is to limit the ability of authoritarian regimes to secretly get their hands on European electronic surveillance.

New protection barriers include an update to European export controls, such as: the inclusion of licensing standards that place greater emphasis on human rights, and an EU-wide scheme that imposes stricter requirements for reporting exports to member states.

Bernd Lange, a member of the European Parliament, said in a statement: Respect for human rights will become an export standard.

He added: It is a milestone in the European Union, where export rules for monitoring technologies were agreed for the first time, and economic interests should not take precedence over human rights.

Human rights groups have been trying to make progress in limiting the export of spyware in recent years around the world, but the courts have hindered this, along with a lack of political will.

The upcoming European Union’s strict controls on the transfer of spyware are a step forward for those trying to thwart the human rights violations that can result when surveillance technologies fall into the wrong hands.

United Nations officials called last year for a halt to the worldwide sale, transfer and export of spyware.

Security researchers also called for stricter controls over malware and state-sponsored surveillance tools.

The announcement by the European Parliament is not surprising, as the European Union has worked to better control dual-use technologies for years.

The move comes four years after the European Commission submitted a proposal on how to sell European Union member states to dual-use goods outside the bloc, where negotiators said: It must include monitoring techniques in mind.

The negotiators wrote in an explanatory statement: The European Union needs to include internet technologies in the EU’s export control system, so that this technology is not used to seriously violate human rights, thus undermining security, democracy, pluralism and freedom of expression.

According to the European Parliament, the agreement needs ratification by the International Trade Commission, Parliament and the Council.

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