Parliament wants EU rules for firms exporting internet censorship tools 

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The EU should have rules for monitoring internet censorship by autocratic regimes, says a resolution, approved on Wednesday on the annual human rights report for 2010. Parliament wants these new rules to strengthen the accountability of EU-based companies that export tools that can be used to block websites and monitor mobile communications.

Arab spring and social media

"There is a race between those harnessing new media to the purpose of liberation and those who seek to use it for repression. I don't hesitate to say Vodafone must learn from doing Mubarak's bidding", said rapporteur Richard Howitt (S&D, UK), referring to Vodafone's suspension of its services at the Mubarak regime's request, only weeks before the revolution in Egypt.

The resolution invites the Commission to propose, by 2013, rules to improve the monitoring of EU exports of tools or services that can be used to censor or block websites and monitor mobile communications.

The "Arab Spring" showed the potential of the internet and social networking for exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression, notes the resolution. It also asks for more support to promote freedom of the media and to protect independent journalists and bloggers.

International Criminal Court

The resolution asks the EU and its Member States to cooperate more consistently with regard to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and persons wanted by it. It calls in particular the Republic of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal, to sign framework agreements with the ICC to facilitate its work.

Secret renditions

"A number of Member States have failed to address their complicity in the worldwide violation of human rights that took place in the context of the US rendition and secret detention programme", says the resolution, which calls on EU institutions to press Member States for full and open investigations.

Children's rights

The resolution calls on the Council and the Commission to step up efforts to achieve universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to promote their enforcement. It also asks the EU External Action Service to include a section on children's rights in its annual human rights reports.

EU special representative on human rights

The resolution warmly welcomes plans to create the post of EU special representative on human rights in response to Parliament’s long-standing request.

The resolution was passed with 580 votes in favour, 28 against, and 74 abstentions.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution