Campaigners have argued that an attempt to prevent EU governments from putting spyware on journalists’ phones for national security reasons is dead. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted against an amendment to remove the right to surveil journalists in the European Media Freedom Act, instead opting for an amendment that they believe equates to a de facto ban on spyware. The new spyware clause includes safeguards forcing national authorities to guarantee the confidentiality of journalistic sources. MEPs argue that spyware is indiscriminate and will sweep up all data, personal and professional, on a phone, making it impossible for authorities to use the software under these new laws. However, campaigners warn that national security and police will be tempted to abuse the legislation without regard to journalists’ sources. They believe that the European parliament missed a unique opportunity to protect journalists against abusive state surveillance using nefarious spying tools. The amendment also covers editorial independence, media ownership, and pluralism, and includes fresh tests in relation to acquisitions and mergers, transparency, and media independence.

By Malik

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