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European “media freedom” law: agreement reached, RSF hails “victory”

This has become the subject of intense debate in recent days. The European Union reached an agreement Friday on a “media freedom law,” the first law of its kind that has sparked debate over the issue of surveillance of journalists. “For the first time at European level, we have legislation that guarantees media freedom, media independence and the protection of journalists,” rejoiced German MEP Sabine Verheyen (EPP, right), rapporteur on the text, after talks between the European Parliament and the European Parliament. Member States. She hailed the “historic event.”

This draft regulation was submitted by the European Commission in September 2022 to protect pluralism and media independence amid the worsening situation in EU countries such as Hungary and Poland, as well as the use of spyware such as Pegasus or Predator. against journalists. The agreement reached on Friday has yet to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council (representing 27 member states).

“Not a blank check”

The text concerns, in particular, maintaining the secrecy of journalistic sources and prohibiting the use of this spyware in devices used by journalists. During the negotiations, several member states, including France, pushed for explicit inclusion of exceptions “in the name of protecting national security,” raising concerns among press freedom professionals and advocates. The compromise text found on Friday, which was not immediately available, contains “no mention of national security,” said Romanian MEP Ramona Strugariu (Europe Renewal, Centrists and Liberals).

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) president Christophe Deloire welcomed the decision on Friday, calling it a “victory” and “very great satisfaction.” The text “includes significant progress in combating surveillance and protecting the privacy of sources,” he also rated X (formerly Twitter).

Surveillance, such as the use of spyware on devices used by journalists, is only possible if it is authorized by a “court decision” in cases of “serious crimes,” Sabine Verheijen stressed. “This is not carte blanche,” said Vera Jourová, vice-president of the European Commission in charge of values ​​and transparency. “We do not regulate the media, we regulate the space for the media,” the Czech commissioner also clarified.

Source: Le Parisien

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