“EU Exports of Digital Arms Must Stop”

Marietje Schaake is a Member of European Parliament (ALDE) who takes particular interest in digital issues. Netopia asked for her views on two current topics.

In a plenary speech on 11 September 2013, MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE) called for a moratorium on EU exports of so called digital arms to Syria. Netopia has been discussing the same topic before and asked Ms Schaake to elaborate her view on the issue.

The export of many products to Syria, including those that can be used for internal repression, are now stopped. But the Italian company Area Spa was building a monitoring center for the Assad regime even when the violent crackdown on citizens had been well began.

– It is clear that the situation in Syria is now extremely violent, but there are other countries where repression with the help of technologies is still rampant and where no sanctions or export restrictions apply. I believe the EU needs to assess the context in which technologies that can also hurt human rights or the EU’s strategic interest, are always assessed.

– Some technologies, such as those that can be used for mass surveillance and hacking into people’s devices without their consent, should be banned. How can the use of these technologies be in line with proportionality and respect for people’s rights? Other technologies, which may be used for legitimate as well as illegitimate purposes, must be subject to a license requirement.

Recently, the European Commission presented its proposed provisions on net neutrality in the Connected Continent-initiative. Is net neutrality the answer to questions of privacy, freedom of speech, competition etc or do you think democratic institutions should play a bigger part? Or perhaps the service and technology providers?

– I think the latest proposal by the European Commission is labeled as netneutrality, but is is not that which is reflected in the proposal. The plans  eave a lot of room for (major) private players to cut deals for preferred speed and service. This risks pushing start-ups out of the market, and does not do justice to the public value of the internet. What will happen to the accessibility of sites of hospitals, libraries and governments, if they do not pay for quality of service?

Per Strömbäck
Editor Netopia