U.K. and Netherlands Lead EU Push for New Cyber Sanctions

U.K. and Netherlands Lead EU Push for New Cyber Sanctions

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The U.K., the Netherlands and other EU governments are pushing the bloc to expand the scope of its sanctions regime to include cyber attacks, according to Bloomberg.

The EU has sanctions protocols in place targeting states for violating nuclear and chemical weapons treaties or harboring terrorism. Now the group of countries, that also includes Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Romania, wants the bloc to introduce a similar system against the individuals and organizations that are behind cyber-attacks, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg.

“We urgently need to implement a similar regime to address malicious cyber activity,” the countries wrote in the memo to the EU’s other member states. “The pace of events has accelerated considerably,” making “the introduction of such a regime a pressing priority,” according to the memo.

EU sanctions typically take the form of asset freezes against companies and individuals and travel bans against individuals. The bloc also has the ability to apply broader economic penalties, a policy used against Russia over its encroachment in Ukraine. The group is recommending that cyber penalties focus on individuals and entities. It said the door should also be left open to making cyber-crimes also subject to “sectoral measures.”

The next draft will be circulated among the EU’s national governments on Monday. A person familiar with the matter said that European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs the meetings of the bloc’s leaders, is mulling whether to include the cyber sanctions reference in the latest version. The communique will then be subject to additional revisions by and on Oct. 18, when EU leaders formally adopt it as a collective decision.

Sanction-worthy behavior would include criminal attacks on information systems, cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property and malicious cyber activities from state or non-state actors, whose behavior was explicitly or tacitly condoned by a foreign government, the countries said. They added the EU should also consider sanctioning activities that seek to interfere in elections. EU elections are set for the spring.

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