Civil society and journalists associations call for protection against spyware and surveillance in the EMFA

Concerns have been made by civil society and journalist groups regarding the proposed Regulation on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).

 Electronics, Mobile Phone, Phone, Iphone

An alliance of 61 organizations urges the Council of the EU (Council) to reconsider its position and take significant steps to protect journalists from observation while emphasizing that the Council must provide the highest legal guarantees for the protection of the media. Namely, civil society and journalist associations have expressed their concerns about the draft Regulation on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), highlighting several problematic provisions in Article 4 of the draft that threaten press freedom, freedom of expression, and journalist protection.

They claim that the ability to employ spyware under the national security exemption does not comply with the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) case law as it does not provide fundamental rights safeguards. It was stressed that the particular clause lowers protections and provides member states wide discretion to conduct surveillance for undefined national security grounds. They argue unequivocally that insufficient legislative safeguards exist to preserve free and independent journalistic activity.

Additionally, the latest compromised text of the EMFA widens the list of crimes that warrant the surveillance of journalists and journalistic sources, raising worries about basic rights, as oppressive measures should be used sparingly and only for the most serious crimes. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has underlined current spyware’s substantial interference with the right to privacy, and even the goal of preserving national security cannot justify breaching journalists’ rights and sources.