27 September 2023

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Urgent appeal to European Parliament: Ban spyware against journalists

 27 September 2023


Open letter to Members of the European Parliament calling for the absolute prohibition of spyware against journalists 


Dear Members of the European Parliament, 


On 3 October, you will vote on the draft report on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). 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. Its capacity to access all data and take full control of a device cannot be technically restricted. Once a journalist’s device is infected, nothing can prevent authorities “from retrieving data related to professional activity” (Article 4.2a, draft report). 


The European Parliament has a unique opportunity to protect journalists and safeguard core EU democratic values. We, therefore, urge you to delete Amendment 115 (paragraph 2 c (new)) and delete references to point (ca) in Amendment 116 (paragraph 2 d (new)) to ban the use of spyware against journalists. 





1. Access Now 

2. ActiveWatch (AW), Romania 

3. Agrupación de Periodistas de UGT (FESMC-UGT), Spain 

4. Agrupación de Periodistas FSC-CCOO, Spain 

5. Asociația pentru Tehnologie și Internet, Romania (ApTI) 

6. Association des Journalistes Professionnels (AJP), Belgium 

7. Article 19 

8. Association Luxembourgeoise des Journalistes Professionnels (ALJP), Luxemburg 

9. CFDT-Journalistes, France 

10. Chaos Computer Club (CCC), Germany 

11. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 

12. Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), Croatia 

13. Danish Union of Journalists (DJ), Denmark 

14. Deutsche Journalistinnen- und Journalisten- Union, (dju) in ver.di, Germany 

15. Deutscher Journalisten-Verband (DJV), Germany 

16. Digitale Gesellschaft, Germany 

17. Državljan D / CItizen D, Croatia 

18. Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), The Netherlands 

19. Electronic Frontier Finland, Finland 

20. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) 

21., Austria 

22. Estonian Association of Journalist (EAL), Estonia 

23. Eurocadres 

24. European Broadcasting Union (EBU) 

25. European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) 

26. European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) 

27. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 

28. European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Unions (EFFAT) 

29. European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) 

30. European Federation of Public Services Union (EPSU) 

31. European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) 

32. European Publishers Council (EPC) 

33. European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) 

34. Federación española de Sindicatos de Periodistas (FeSP), Spain 

35. Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI), Italy 

36. Free Press Unlimited (FPU) 

37. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) 

38. Homo Digitalis, Greece 

39. Hungarian Press Union (HPU), Hungary 

40. IFEX 

41. Index on Censorship 

42. IndustriAll European Trade Union 

43. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) 

44. International Press Institute (IPI) 

45. Journalists and Media Workers United (JMWU), France 

46. Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (JUADN), Greece 

47. Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace (ESIEMTH), Greece 

48. Justice for Journalists Foundation, UK 

49. Latvian Association of Journalists (LZA), Latvia 

50. Lithuanian Journalists Union (LZS), Lithuania 

51. Mnemonic, Germany 

52. National Union of Journalists (NUJ), UK & Ireland 

53. OBC Transeuropa (OBCT) 

54., Italy 

55. Periodical and Electronic Press Union (PEPU – ESPIT), Greece 

56. Politiscope, Croatia 

57. Rory Peck Trust, UK 

58. Sindicato de Periodistas de Andalucía (SPA), Spain 

59. Sindicato dos Jornalistas (SINJOR), Portugal 

60. Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, Slovakia 

61. Slovenian Association of Journalists (DNS), Slovenia 

62. Society of Journalists, Poland 

63. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) 

64. Swedish Union of Journalists (SJ), Sweden 

65. Syndicate of Journalists of the Czech Republic (SNCR), Czechia 

66. Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ), France 

67. Syndicat national des journalistes CGT (SNJ-CGT), France 

68. The Civil Liberties for Europe (Liberties) 

69. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) 

70. The Federation for Culture and Mass-Media FAIR-MediaSind, Romania 

71. Trade Union of Croatian journalists (TUCJ), Croatia 

72. UNI Europa, the European Services Workers Union 

73. UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts (UNI-MEI) 

74. Union of Armenian Journalists (UAJ), Armenia 

75. Union of Bulgarian Journalists (UBJ), Bulgaria 

76. Union of Cyprus Journalists (ESK), Cyprus 

77. Union of Journalists in Finland (SJ), Finland 

78. Union of Slovenian Journalists (SNS), Slovenia 

79. Vlaamse Vereniging van Journalisten (VVJ), Belgium 

80. Wikimedia Europe 

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