Who Voted Against Restricting Sales of Spy Tech to Dictators? These European Politicians.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 19 2012 5:55 PM

Who Voted Against Restricting Sales of Spy Tech to Dictators? These European Politicians.

103034224
British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin.

Photo by LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

A Bulgarian taekwondo champion, two Portuguese Communists, and a British earl were among the odd group of European politicians who yesterday voted against a move to restrict the export of spy gear and censorship tools to autocratic regimes.

Ryan Gallagher Ryan Gallagher

Ryan Gallagher is a journalist who reports on surveillance, security, and civil liberties.

A resolution in the European Parliament calling for stricter oversight of companies selling equipment to countries such as Syria or China was passed overwhelmingly on Wednesday, with 580 votes for, 28 against, and 74 abstentions. The idea is to keep European companies from being complicit in human rights violations.

Advertisement

Now that it has been passed by a majority of members—who vote as individuals representing a political party, not a country—the resolution will be considered by the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, which has been asked to put forward a proposal for legislation by 2013. (Full details about the EU Parliament’s labyrinthine legislative process can be found here.)

So who would vote against to a proposal that seems so unobjectionable? The list showing which way the MEPs voted reveals that eight British politicians went against the resolution, along with five from Poland; three from the Czech Republic; two from Portugal, the Netherlands, Malta, and Germany; and one each from France, Italy, Austria, and Bulgaria.

Several well-known right-wing politicians feature, such as British National Party Chairman Nick Griffin and Philippe de Villiers, a former French presidential candidate known for his outspoken criticism of Islam and staunch anti-immigration views.

Bulgarian national taekwondo champion Slavi Binev, who has described himself as the “the only dissident in Bulgaria,” also voted against, as did: Portuguese Communists Joao Ferreira and Ines Cristina Zuber, the only overtly leftist members on the list; Dutch MEP Daniel van der Stoep, who previously resigned from the European Parliament after crashing his car while drunk; English Conservative Daniel Hannan, an author who writes for the right-leaning Daily Telegraph; and William (the Earl of) Dartmouth, a member representing the U.K. Independence Party, an anti-immigration populist party defined by its strong desire to remove the U.K. from the European Union.

Asked why he and five* of his UKIP colleagues had voted against a resolution calling for greater accountability and scrutiny of companies selling censorship and surveillance tools to dictators, the Earl told me: "UKIP opposes torture and helping autocratic regimes. However, we object to the EU speaking in our name on this topic."

Aside from “inviting” parliament to introduce new measures by 2013 restricting sales of “mass surveillance” and Internet blocking equipment, the resolution also calls for full and open investigations into EU member states’ involvement in human rights abuses that relate to complicity in the U.S. government’s extraordinary rendition program; universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and more consistent cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Each of these clauses, in addition to the provisions for restricting surveillance tech sales, may also have been a factor in the decision to vote against.

All 28 of the politicians who opposed the resolution can be found below. They are listed by parliamentary political group.

Daniel Hannan (England, Conservative); Edvard Kožušnik (Czech Republic, Civic Democratic Party), Mirosław Piotrowski (Poland, Law and Justice), Oldrich Vlasak (Czech Republic, Civic Democratic Party), Jan Zahradil (Czech Republic, Civic Democratic Party).

Europe of Freedom and Democracy:

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (England, UKIP), Magdi Allam (Italy, Io amo l`Italia), Marta Andreasen (England, UKIP), Gerard Batten (England, UKIP), Bas Belder (Netherlands, Reformed Political Party), John Bufton (Wales, UKIP), Tadeusz Cymański (Poland, Law and Justice), Nigel Farage (England, UKIP), Roger Helmer (England, UKIP), Jacek Kurski (Poland, Law and Justice), Jacek Włosowicz (Poland, Solidarna Polska), Zbigniew Ziobro (Poland, Solidarna Polska), Philippe de Villiers (France, Mouvement pour la France).

European United Left/Nordic Green Left:

Joao Ferreira (Portugal, Partido Comunista), Ines Cristina Zuber (Portugal, Partido Comunista).

Non-Inscrits (non-attached members who don’t belong to any of the political groups):

Slavi Binev (Bulgaria, Independent), Nick Griffin (England, BNP), Ewald Stadler (Austria, Ewald Stadler), Daniël van der STOEP (Netherlands, Independent).

European People's Party:

Simon Busuttil (Malta, Nationalist Party), David Casa (Malta, Nationalist Party), Martin Kastler (Germany, Christian Social Union), Joachim Zeller (Germany, Christian Democratic Union).

Correction, April 19, 2012: This sentence originally suggested that four members of the United Kingdom Independence Party voted against the measure. Six did.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.