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End mass snooping and protect whistleblowers, MEPs yell at EU

Lest we pass another legally unenforceable resolution

The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to adopt the conclusions of a report – as a non-legally binding resolution – that defends encryption, anonymity and digital freedom.

The report (PDF), which was narrowly approved by 371 votes in favour to 293 against, said “the active complicity of certain EU member states in the NSA’s mass surveillance of citizens and spying on political leaders, as revealed by Edward Snowden, has caused serious damage to the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy."

However, it’s not just the US that has come in for a bashing in the resolution that was drafted by Dutch Liberal MEP Marietje Schaake. David Cameron’s ideas about banning encryption or allowing backdoor exploits for spying are also roundly condemned.

The European Parliament said the EU should “counter the criminalisation of the use of encryption, anti-censorship and privacy tools by refusing to limit the use of encryption within the EU, and by challenging third-country governments that criminalise such tools."

"It also condemns the weakening and undermining of encryption protocols and products, particularly by intelligence services seeking to intercept encrypted communications," said the institution, which, despite being one of the legislative bodies of the EU, cannot initiate legislation.

Schaake wants "end-to-end" encryption standards as a matter of course for all communication services.

The resolution also pushes open source and open standards, wants the possibility of granting whistleblowers international protection from prosecution (here's looking at you, Snowden), and warns against the privatisation of law enforcement through internet companies and ISPs.

Schaake & Co also want to see the EU implement smarter export controls for so-called dual-use technologies, namely ones that as well as having a legitimate purpose could be used in human rights violations.

“We need to make sure that Europe plays a leading role to prevent advanced systems, which are used to violate human rights, falling into the wrong hands," she said.

"To do that we need smart export control policies which do not hinder the legitimate exchange of information and research,” she added. ®

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