NUJ co-signs open letter opposing the use of spyware against journalists

  • 28 Sep 2023

80 organisations have urged Members of the European Parliament to recognise the dangers of spyware against journalists, and call for its prohibition under the European Media Freedom Act.

Ahead of a vote on 3 October by MEPs on the draft European Media Freedom Act, the NUJ has joined organisations including European journalists’ bodies,in highlighting dangers posed if the use of spyware against journalists is permitted under the Act.

The open letter calling for the deletion of an amendment states:

“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.”

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary called the practice “legalised hacking” in an interview, raising threats posed to the protection of sources if the amendment is accepted.

Listen to the interview on the Morning Ireland programme on RTÉ.

Read the full letter with signatories.

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