EU states unanimously vote against stricter export controls for surveillance equipment


16-07-19 11:03:00,

Daniel Moßbrucker accompanies the reform of the EU Dual Use Regulation for Reporters Without Borders. The human rights NGO works globally for the protection of journalists and fights against censorship online and offline. This text is the translation of the original German version.

On 28 May, the UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, appealed to the international community and demanded a moratorium on the sale of spying technology. Everywhere in the world, journalists, activists and opposition members are being monitored with state-of-the-art technology, trade is flourishing – and global regulation is at best in its infancy.

With the same arguments, the EU Commission had already submitted a reform proposal in 2016 for the European control system. The items include hacking software, large data centres for data retention, IMSI catchers for monitoring demonstrations and equipment for telecommunications surveillance.

For more than two years, the EU member states had been arguing fiercely about the Commission’s plans before they presented their „compromise“ exactly one week after Kaye’s demand. They are against any plans that would allow stronger controls on surveillance technology.

„Deleted“ is now written in all the places, in which the Commission wanted to change the regulation in the so-called cyber cluster of the underlying Dual Use Regulation. „Cyber cluster“ is the unofficial name for a bunch of specific suggestions that the Commission made to better address human rights safeguards in the Dual Use Regulation.

Votes of the Council of the European Union are secret, but government circles tell us that the vote of the EU states was unanimous – Germany also agreed, so that nothing should change for the protection of human rights against surveillance in injustice regimes.

No majority, no human rights

In the ranks of the European Parliament there is partial bewilderment at the agreement, which is not actually an agreement. According to reports, the member states are still deeply divided on some details, so that groups of member states have blocked each other for years.

In the end, they decided to drop the cyber cluster altogether,

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