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Europe clamps down on cybersurveillance exports

The European Union has tightened up export rules on cybersurveillance tools in an effort to limit their spread to repressive regimes.

The new rules covering “dual use” products and services – those that can be used in both a civilian and military context – were announced this week and follow years of negotiations. They were necessary, the EU said, because of “technological developments and growing security risks.”

The goods affected will include controls on things like high-end computers and drones, identification software and spyware. The new rules put a stress on human rights as a key criteria for approving or refusing export licenses.

Member states will be required to “consider the risk of use in connection with internal repression or the commission of serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.”

In an announcement this week, the EU said: “Parliament negotiators have succeeded in substantially strengthening human rights considerations among those new criteria to avoid that certain surveillance and intrusion technologies exported from the EU contribute to human rights abuses.”

In effect, that means if an EU company wants to export its technology to a country outside Europe, it will face greater hurdles and questions if that country has a history of abusing human rights or limiting political freedom.

The rules have also been redrawn to encompass new and emerging technologies in an effort to stay ahead of future problems since changes to the rules – especially the international Wassenaar agreement – can often take a decade or more.

Source – The Register

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