Ban surveillance tech to repressive regimes, says EU parliament

The EU Parliament also sets out a digital freedom strategy

European lawmakers want to stop exports of technology that can censor information to repressive regimes.

The European Parliament on Thursday passed a resolution calling for a formal ban on European Union exports of technology that can be used to conduct mass surveillance, track people's movements or block information.

Parliamentarians also urged E.U. agencies to reinforce work with civil society instead of focusing on relations with authorities.

"If we do not assume responsibility for human rights activists and defenders, we will have nothing to defend and fight for," said Leonidas Donskis, the member of parliament responsible for drawing up the report.

Earlier this week the Parliament also adopted the first ever Digital Freedom Strategy by a large majority.

In that resolution parliamentarians said the E.U. should mainstream the promotion and protection of digital freedoms in all its external actions. It added that companies should ensure their products cannot be involved in possible human rights violations in third countries.

"The E.U. must update its human rights policies to match the revolutionary impact technologies have on freedom of speech, association, and access to information," said Dutch parliamentarian, Marietje Schaake.

The Parliament on Thursday welcomed the Council decisions to ban the export of certain information technologies to Syria and Iran, and urged the E.U. to consider this as a precedent for restrictive measures against other repressive regimes in the future.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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