140 signs on Twitter can be enough to trigger mass demonstrations against repressive authoritarian regimes.
A single Facebook post has the power to bring human rights violations to the surface that would otherwise have remained hidden.
One sentence on an online blog, however, can also mean PRISON, TORTURE and DEATH.
Indeed, spyware technology MADE IN EUROPE has allowed governments around the world to closely monitor activists and human rights defenders.
You're an independent journalist in Bahrain?
A human rights lawyer in Vietnam?
Chances are good that secret services are reading your emails, listening to your phone conversations and copying your passwords. They probably know your exact location at any given time. They might even have secretly switched on your webcam RIGHT NOW ...
... thanks to European technology!
For years, we as Greens in the European Parliament have fought for a robust regulatory framework controlling the export of European surveillance technology. The European Commission, however, has shied away from introducing new legislation, at least to date. Selling spyware to Saudi Arabia, without prior authorisation - no problem in Europe.
But there are first signs of progress.
Indeed, the European Commission has announced an update to the EU Dual Use Regulation. It is totally unclear, however, whether and to what extent surveillance technology ‒ currently not part of the EU regulation ‒ will be included in this process. We therefore demand:
BINDING RULES: We want a new EU legislative proposal governing the global trade in European telecommunications and Internet surveillance technology.
NO LOOPHOLES FOR HARMFUL TECHNOLOGIES: We want a broad list of technology items that shall fall under the new legislation.
All relevant software and hardware elements that could facilitate human rights abuses need to be included – particularly technologies used for mass-surveillance, monitoring, intrusion, tracking, tracing and censoring. At the same time, we must ensure that technologies capable of promoting and protecting human rights as well as security testing tools without criminal intent be exempted. In this context, a fast and comprehensive implementation of the latest Wassenaar agreements would be an important first, but insufficient step.
A BROAD LIST OF TARGETED COUNTRIES: We want a precautionary approach regarding the number of countries that fall under the new legislation.
We demand to limit the export of surveillance technology to a very restrictive and short list of highly stable and mature democracies. EU rules always need to prevail, such that EU Member States are not allowed to export listed items to destinations other than those mentioned in the new EU legislation.
STRICT CONTROLS AND SANCTIONS: We want a strict, strong and transparent ex-ante control mechanism, instead of relying on the usual and toothless ex-post controls of the current EU Dual Use Regulation.
The European Commission and the Member States need to check and authorise the higly sensitive export of surveillance technology before they actually leave the European Union, not afterwards when it is too late anyway. And we need sanctions against Member States that export without authorisation.