NSO Group human rights

Human rights organizations call to strengthen the European Commission position on dual-use recast

Brussels, BE — Today, Access Now alongside Amnesty International, Brot für die Welt, Committee to Protect Journalists, International Federation For Human rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch, Privacy International, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), calls on the European Commission to reconsider and strengthen its compromise amendments regarding the EU dual-use recast, and to bring its position in line with the original Commission proposal from September 2016.

“The Commission should not need a reminder of the outrage over the role of EU-made spyware in targeting journalists, activists and dissidents abroad,” said Lucie Krahulcova, Policy Analyst at Access Now. “Almost a decade after the Arab Spring brought this issue forward, the EU remains derelict in its duty to protect human rights abroad.”

The Commission’s position should enable the European Union to enact a legislation that “prevent[s] human rights violations associated with certain cyber-surveillance technologies” by adopting appropriate human rights standards, mandatory human rights impact assessment in due diligence processes, a functional mechanism for catch-all and the EU control list, and mandatory transparency and disclosure criteria for export licensing by Member States.

“Surveillance technologies have a chilling impact on freedom of expression and they rob individuals of their privacy. Yet this industry exists with little transparency and no accountability. Ambitious statements about the protection of human rights are worthless when our democratic institutions roll over at the behest of the EU’s spyware industry,” added Krahulcova.

The letter calls on the Commission to enact strong uniform rules across the Union so that surveillance vendors are prevented from “licence shopping” among the states with weaker implementation of current export controls rules. At Access Now we have documented such abuse of the weak rules in the past, see more in our post (Is NSO Group’s infamous Pegasus spyware being traded through the EU?) from September 2019.

Click here to view the full letter sent to the Commission.