Feeds

Spy tech exports from Europe face tighter scrutiny

Strasbourg mulls new rules on surveillance software by 2013

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The EU could soon introduce rules to monitor the deployment of internet censorship technology in autocratic regimes including China and Saudi Arabia.

The European Parliament is proposing a resolution to strengthen the accountability of countries that export gear used to block websites and eavesdrop on mobile communications.

"There is a race between those harnessing new media to the purpose of liberation and those who seek to use it for repression," said Richard Howitt, a British Labour-party MEP and the investigator appointed to look into the issue.

"I don't hesitate to say Vodafone must learn from doing Mubarak's bidding," he said in a canned statement, referring to the telco sending out pro-government propaganda and suspending its services in Egypt at President Hosni Mubarak's request weeks before a revolution forced the head of state to resign.

The resolution, which is expected to be passed in Strasbourg on Thursday, will ask the European Commission to come up with rules for improving oversight of EU countries' exports of tools that can be used for censorship by next year.

The use of surveillance, censoring and spy software came to light after nations bent on restricting access to information and communication channels turned to countries where freedom of speech and other human rights are supposed to be upheld.

Last year Lord David Alton of Liverpool called on the UK government to ban the export of espionage software and equipment, and questioned sales of Blighty-made gear to Iran and Yemen.

Foreign Office minister Lord David Howell of Guildford replied that there was "no evidence of controlled military goods exported from the United Kingdom being used for internal repression in the Middle East and North Africa".

However, he also said that "surveillance equipment, including telephone intercept equipment, covers a wide variety of equipment and software, and generally is not controlled because of its use for a wide variety of legitimate uses and its easy and widespread availability".

The resolution before the European Parliament also includes requests for EU member states to cooperate more consistently with the International Criminal Court for full and open investigations into secret renditions and for increased efforts to get everyone to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.