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Open Letter: protect journalists and ban spyware in the EMFA

On 3 October, the plenary of the European Parliament will vote on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). This regulation will create the first European legal framework to protect journalists and media service providers from intrusive surveillance technologies. GFMD joins 79 media, journalists, and human and digital rights organisations that are calling on MEPs to ensure that the regulation achieves what it set out to do by including a full ban on the use of spyware against journalists.

Author: Yelyzaveta Bezushko | 27. September 2023

The Parliament’s Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee has already voted on its position on the EMFA. Although they included, in their opinion, strong safeguards, their version of the law would still allow the use of spyware against journalists in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this opinion does not go far enough and could still lead to abuse.

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.

EDRi, alongside media organizations, publishers and journalists, has consistently advocated for a total ban on spyware within the European Media Freedom Act. Recognizing the grave threat it poses to journalistic independence and citizens’ privacy, this open letter demonstrates the commitment to upholding democratic values and safeguarding the rights of journalists. The open letter underscores a commitment to fostering a media environment free from invasive surveillance, promoting transparency, accountability, and the preservation of fundamental democratic principles.

Read the full letter here

As we enter the final, critical stages of the EMFA legislative process, it is imperative that this new framework fulfils its original purpose. The EMFA aims to bolster media freedom, independence, and pluralism, enhance transparency, and harmonize rules across member states for the benefit of all stakeholders and citizens.  For that reason, a diverse coalition of organizations representing civil society, media, and journalism have co-organised the ‘Briefing Breakfast’ on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) at the European Parliament. The event took place on September 27, 2023, in the Spinelli room. Learn more here.

You might also find it interesting to explore this brochure about the articles for consideration in advance of the plenary vote in the European Parliament. 

If you would like to take part in debates around the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) and other issues, consider joining the EU Media Advocacy Working Group. Please contact us at advocacy@gfmd.info if you are interested in joining the working group, or if you would like more information.


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