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EU Government Privacy

Dutch MEP Petitions To Ban Export of Surveillance Software 81

Posted by timothy
from the hey-we're-using-that dept.
Trailrunner7 writes with this excerpt: "A Dutch member of the European parliament is supporting a grass-roots effort to restrict the export of surveillance software such as FinFisher and others, which are used by some governments and law-enforcement agencies to monitor their citizens' activities. The effort, dubbed Stop Digital Arms, is supported by Marietje Schaake, a member of the EU Parliament's International Trade committee. The petition itself is on the Change.org site, and it calls upon members of the European Union 'to give the European Commission the mandate to draft the laws and develop initiatives necessary to stop digital arms trade' ... In a report called 'For Their Eyes Only' released earlier this year, the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the university of Toronto detailed the spread of this software around the world and identified a slew of FinFisher command-and-control servers in countries such as Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, among many others."
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Dutch MEP Petitions To Ban Export of Surveillance Software

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  • if they didn't ban just export but import as well.
    • by plover (150551) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @11:58PM (#45315739) Homepage Journal

      if they didn't ban just export but import as well.

      Great idea. The Dutch don't need Wireshark anyway.

      Oh, wait, you mean "monitoring software" means software that can monitor traffic on the network?

      How about jailing the people who actually abuse the tools to violate other people's rights, instead of trying to outlaw them?

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        How about jailing the people who actually abuse the tools to violate other people's rights, instead of trying to outlaw them?

        Hard to jail them when they work for the government.

      • by Ubi_NL (313657)

        So how would the EU go about jailing the NSA?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        It would be more like a weapons export ban, where you are not allowed to export them to countries that are known to abuse them. In other words no selling telecom monitoring equipment to governments that then use it to oppress their citizens, like certain middle eastern countries or the US/UK.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          It's far more like too little too late. Face it the US in it's stupidity has kicked off and internet arms race. Basically want security you require a total ban all foreign hardware, software and business from communications infrastructure, don't have a ban and you can now guarantee back doors. Reckon the US will slow down, absolutely not, in fact they will ramp up their efforts because they will claim because of what the US has done, other countries will be forced to retaliate in order to secure their syst

        • by murdocj (543661)

          Right... because you happen to think YOUR country doesn't monitor electronic communications. Good luck with that one.

      • Jailing members of foreign governments is typically quite difficult until after you've won a war against them.
      • "How about jailing the people who actually abuse the tools to violate other people's rights, instead of trying to outlaw them?"

        Who'd jail them?
  • Carrier IQ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can we add Carrier IQ and other spyware to the list? I'd also like to know how much data NSA got from Carrier IQ and how much Carrier IQ and the telcos that forced it to be installed, got paid by the NSA.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @11:42PM (#45315693)

    Be careful such a well-intentioned ban doesn't backfire.

    Instead of banning software, how about reacting to what people DO with software?

    • "...how about reacting to what people DO with software?"

      And what would the correct reaction be? Civil war? No one wants that.
  • Actual Headline (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    To translate: Dutch politicians attempt to ruin their own software industry, do nothing to stop digital surveillance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by erikkemperman (252014)

      To translate: Dutch politicians attempt to ruin their own software industry, do nothing to stop digital surveillance.

      Well the proposal would be for a EU wide export ban, but I see your point and tend to agree it wouldn't solve much.

      Still, it makes sense to try and change some things that are within ones own reach, at least for starters. And in the Netherlands, there is quite a bit of development of this type of surveillance software going on.

      I worked for one of these companies for about a month until I figured out exactly how badly it disgusted me. The Netherlands is among the worst countries when it comes to phone taps,

  • Stop Digital Arms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @12:15AM (#45315797) Journal

    By all means, let's drive it underground... and make it all classified..

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @12:18AM (#45315807)

    Nothing will happen. Remember EU is not a democracy, and the EU parliament is a fake parliament. It does not vote the budget. It cannot start a directive initiative (only the EU commission can). The commission can remove amendments done by the parliament, and it already did it in the past. And of course the EU commission can ignore a proposal from the parliament. The only real power of the EU parliament is to reject a directive within the co-decision method.

    Most of the time, the EU parliament vote non binding resolutions that are only relevant to the press. EU ideologists can then quote nice resolutions that will have no consequence in the real world, and tell us how good the EU is for EU citizen. But this kind of propaganda is getting less effective, as people face a harsh reality every day.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      True look at the way Spain implemented some employment related directives (TUPE) basically a F You to the EU and its Citizens whist holding out the other had for all that juicy CAP subsidy money for the farmers and fishing fleets.
      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        EU being no democracy, it has no legitimacy pushing directives on member states. But EU subsidies come from EU member state taxes, therefore it is legitimate for EU citizen to have them. As a tax payer, I am happy to give money help Spain farmers while they say f*ck you to the EU. Especially while they say f*ck you to the EU.

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          So a few farmers make hey and the rest of the Spanish workers and all those unemployed Spanish young people can go hang eh.
          • by manu0601 (2221348)

            Before hanging themselves, southern EU citizen should at least try to vote for someone that will propose a fix to the euro. The current setup cannot work because the only way to offset a commercial deficit is to make the country poorer every year. That kills the economy and gives no opportunity to improve the commercial deficit.

            The fix can be to have the European Central Bank creating the money needed to offset the deficit and give it to member states that need it. Or to broaden EU tax transfers like the CA

  • Good luck with that (Score:3, Informative)

    by davidwr (791652) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @12:23AM (#45315819) Homepage Journal

    It may be possible to ban the SALE or TRADE of such software, but you can't very well stop someone from GIVING it away. After all, they can stand on the border and hold up printouts of the source code and invite people standing 5 feet away from them to take photos of it.

    Well, I guess you COULD ban it if you are in a country that doesn't have or even pretend to have free-speech protections.

    All any such ban will do would be to drive the R&D to other countries.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Its going to end up like the US ban on exporting Crypto tech. It will push the related jobs outside the country to make sure they don't have issues with the law, and otherwise do pretty much nothing.

  • it calls upon members of the European Union 'to give the European Commission the mandate to draft the laws and develop initiatives necessary to stop digital arms trade'

    Amazing. The response of the Europeans is apparently to demand their governments give up control over their own intelligence agencies and the ability to develop cyberweapons, crippling their telecommunications infrastructure... Because one government agency in the United States got caught peeping through the windows.

    Explain to me the logic here, because to me it looks like the Europeans are shooting themselves in the foot while screaming "Look what you made me do! Now you'd better stop or I'm gonna do it ag

    • How are you seeing not being able to develop 'cyberweapons' as crippling their telecommunications infrastructure? You can't put a 'CyberSCUD' next to your router to 'preemptively strike' intruders. You secure your telecom infrastructure by securing your telecom infrastructure.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well unlike america we have a variety of meps of variety of opinions.

      some of them are pretty much outright nazies, some of them aren't, some of them want to ban everything, some of them not, some of them just vote yes on everything(no shit! everything! even things that are against each other). somehow it sort of works.

      I do hope though that they would just make it illegal to tap into communications for agencies like it is illegal for private people. I mean, the tools they're proposing to ban are already ille

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        oh and to clarify its illegal to snoop on your users even if you own the network.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          oh and to clarify its illegal to snoop on your users even if you own the network.

          Yes, but it is legal for many kinds of government agencies to snoop on your network in many European countries, without disclosure and without legal oversight. And that's a far bigger problem.

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          not for companies though in the USA
    • Re:Trololololoooo (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @02:40AM (#45316173)

      Explain to me the logic here, because to me it looks like the Europeans are shooting themselves in the foot while screaming "Look what you made me do! Now you'd better stop or I'm gonna do it again!"

      "The Europeans" isn't actually a single group of people with a single agenda. Like "the Americans", it's composed of many different groups. One group, namely European politicians, gets a lot of coverage, and they find it advantageous to inflame anti-American sentiment to (1) get more attention and (2) push through legislation that otherwise wouldn't have much chance to be pushed through.

      • Mostly agree with your post, except I think this is not meant to "inflame anti-American sentiment" but rather it's timed to ride on that sentiment which is already quite inflamed enough, thank you very much, because of the US agencies' own doing.

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          which is already quite inflamed enough, thank you very much, because of the US agencies' own doing.

          And how is what the US agencies are doing different from what European governments have been doing routinely?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Scale.

          • The NSA got caught?

            Various leaks about inappropriate surveillance have been happening in every nation since the beginning of nations and spies. The NSA effort is particularly large scale, and is part of its international collaborative efforts with other nation's monitoring agencies. Make no mistake, these agencies trade intelligence on a frequent basis so that each can gather data from the other agencies that they lack the local resources, or the legal ability, to gather themselves. The "Echelon" monitoring

            • by stenvar (2789879)

              The NSA got caught?

              So did European spy agencies, European war mongers, and European assassins, but Europeans are completely blind to that when they do it.

              The NSA effort is particularly large scale, and is part of its international collaborative efforts with other nation's monitoring agencies.

              And that's why Europeans are justified at venting their anger at the US instead of their own "monitoring agencies", who aid, support, and cooperate with the US? Yup, makes PERFECT sense.

      • by mars-nl (2777323)

        She is a MEP who is concerned about human rights (especially in the Middle East). She blames Western technology for internet censorship in e.g. Middle Eastern states. The software that is used most for this happens to be mostly American and Italian.

        http://www.marietjeschaake.eu/2011/12/media-radio-free-europe-marietje-schaake-its-high-time-this-digital-weapons-trade-stops/ [marietjeschaake.eu]

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @02:27AM (#45316143)

    Others have said similar things already, but this will never work. Any tool that can be used to do something useful, can be used to harm someone else. That is true for most tools we humans use and also applies to most "cyber tools". Using a network scanner to find intruders or bad configured systems is good, using it to find someone that wants to get information out of a censored government is bad. Using a load tester to see if your system can handle the users it's designed for is good, but using it to take down some system that is run by someone you oppose of is bad.

    She has no idea that the tools exclusively marketed as cyber weapons are nothing more than window dressing for existing things. Any government spending money on this either needs the window dressing and can't make their own, or is too stupid to understand this sort of thing. The more they spend money on cyber weapons, the less they will spend it on potentially more harmful things. Please let them be, it's a snake oil market and anyone buying the snake oil deserves what they get for their money.

    • She has no idea that the tools exclusively marketed as cyber weapons are nothing more than window dressing for existing things.

      Government bureaucrats do not understand technology, and should best leave it alone.

      When a government tries to fiddle with technology . . . you get something like: https://www.healthcare.gov/ [healthcare.gov]

      Hell, if you tasked most parliaments in the world with building a campfire, they wouldn't be able to figure it out:

      "I propose a 5-year flame-thrower research project to be funded in my constituency, which would provide a stimulus for the fire industry . . . "

    • by antdude (79039)

      Yep, like /.! ;)

  • I try to keep an open mind about surveillance and data farming. The benefits could be substantial although the potential for abuse is also very real. Many people only consider terrorism in relation to spying. But we may have the potential to stop almost all crime in its tracks. Whether it is illegal narcotics traffic or being able to quickly find a missing child the possibilities are almost endless. And these systems could also apply to large businesses such that the financials are constantly studi

  • Why are the majority of people in this thread assuming this is an response to the Snowden releases? To me this seems to be a law which has nothing to do with the NSA's activities but instead to prevent oppressive regimes from purchasing european made software which will allow them to suppress their citizens even further by spying on them etc. Haven't we already got similar laws to prevent sells of software used by oppressive regimes which could enable them to censor their citizens?
  • When America does it based on ITAR to keep foreign nations like China, Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea from using it, they are the bad guys.
    When another nation does it, then it is good. Good figure.

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