The EU’s proposed “e-evidence” legislation, while well-intended, must be amended to preserve freedom of the media, freedom of expression and freedom of information. In a recent statement, EBU joined other European media associations and journalists to call for the e-Evidence regulation to ensure protection of the European media sector and its contribution to democratic societies.
With the e-evidence proposal (official title: The Regulation on European Production and Preservation Ordersfor electronic evidence in criminal matters), authorities in European Member States would be able to request the production or preservation of electronic data stored in a different Member State via orders needed for investigation and prosecution purposes for certain crimes. The proposal would allow the competent authorities in the issuing Member State to directly ask service providers based in other EU Member States for electronic evidence originating from emails, messaging apps, social networks and similar services.
While some of the European Parliament’s amendments to the proposal make improvements regarding press freedom, there remains a critical need for the proposal to ensure that the executing Member State (i.e. the Member State of the target of the judicial order) is mandated to assess and validate the order before any data is handed over.
Our joint statement goes into more detail on the concerns we have about the e-evidence proposal in its current state. We expect the European Parliament to take a vote on its amendments in the coming weeks and we will report on the outcome. In the meantime, we will continue to advocate that media freedom and transparency are indispensable preconditions and essential safeguards of well-functioning democracy and that all national and European lawmakers have a duty to protect and preserve media freedom and pluralism.