Electronic evidence in criminal matters: European media industries, EFJ and UNI MEI call for protection of the free and independent media

Friday 9 November 2018

In a joint statement adopted on 9th November 2018, ACT (Association of Commercial Television in Europe), AER (Association of European Radios), EBU (European Broadcasting Union), EFJ (European Federation of Journalists), EMMA (European Magazine Media Association) ENPA (European Newspaper Publishers’ Association), EPC (European Publishers Council), NME (News Media Europe) and UNI MEI raised their concerns on the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on European production and preservation orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters and the serious implications it could have on media and journalists’ freedom.

The European Commission’s proposal aims at providing judicial authorities in European Member States with a tool to request the production or preservation of electronic data stored in a different Member State via production and/or preservation orders needed for investigation and prosecution purposes in crimes identified by the proposal. The proposal would allow the competent authorities in the issuing Member State to directly approach service providers based in an EU Member State to obtain electronic evidence originating from emails, messaging apps, social networks and similar services.

According to the media industries and trade union federation, the Commission’s proposal would pose an unacceptable threat for the freedom of press and media, the freedom of expression as well as the freedom of information. The signatories are concerned that the types of data that service providers ought to hand over to issuing authorities in other Member States with limited legal remedies include subscriber data (e.g. the identity of the subscriber including its name, date of birth and address), access data (e.g. the commencement and termination of a user accessing a service), transaction data (e.g. the source and destination of messages) and even content data (e.g. texts, voice messages, videos and images).

European media outlets and EFJ and UNI MEI urge European decision makers to ensure the future legislation includes specific safety measures that provide sufficient and clear protection for sources, for the work of journalists as well as for editorial secrecy.

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