As the European Parliament gets set to vote on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) on October 3, the Justice for Journalists Foundation joined 79 civil society and journalists’ associations and unions calling on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to ensure meaningful protection for journalists in the regulation by including a total ban on spyware.
This regulation will in part create the first European legal framework to protect journalists and media service providers from intrusive surveillance technologies. Media, journalists and human and digital rights organisations are calling for an unconditional prohibition of the use of spyware against journalists in Article 4.
Journalism in Europe is under attack: chilling effects resulting from surveillance and other intimidation tactics threaten to limit journalistic reporting and restrict the public’s access to a plurality of trustworthy and independent reporting. The PEGA Committee demonstrated how Member States have bypassed established legal safeguards to put journalists under intrusive surveillance. Current protections in the law are de facto completely ineffective.
Although it included stronger safeguards in its opinion, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee still allows the use of spyware in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this opinion does not go far enough and could still lead to abuse. The European Parliament must close them.
Spyware is a powerful tool that puts journalistic work, freedom of expression and ultimately, democratic values in danger. We urge MEPs to use the upcoming plenary vote as an opportunity to reign in the use of this powerful tool and ensure that journalists are protected.
Read the full open letter to MEPs: open-letter-EMFA-organisations-publishers-ban-spyware