Spyware exports: RSF urges European Commission to step up efforts to protect journalists

Alors que les négociations sur la refonte du règlement sur les exportations des technologies de surveillance, interrompues par la crise sanitaire du Covid-19, reprennent ce mois-ci, Reporters sans frontières (RSF), au côté d’une coalition d’ONG, appelle la Commission européenne a revoir la nouvelle proposition de compromis afin de renforcer la protection des journalistes et de leurs sources.

Talks on revising the rules on the export of cyber-surveillance technology, suspended because of the Covid-19 health crisis, are due to resume this month and a coalition of NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF), is calling the European Commission to strengthen its compromise position to protect journalists and their sources.

In an open letter to European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, RSF, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations warn against any further weakening of the Commission’s position in the talks on the EU dual-use recast.


Recent cases show that digital spyware developed in the EU are still being sold to repressive governments throughout the world despite the existence of export controls. For example, the Colombian magazine Semana recently disclosed that surveillance software developed by the Spanish company Mollitiam Industries was bought by the Colombian armed forces, which has used it to illegally spy on supreme court judges, politicians, journalists and journalists’ sources. The targets included Semana’s editor Alejandro Santos, and some of his reporters, after they published articles about crimes committed by members of the military.


In order to protect journalists, the signatory organizations recommend adopting appropriate human rights standards, mandatory human rights impact assessment in due diligence processes, a system for adding surveillance technology to the EU control list, and mandatory transparency and disclosure criteria for export licensing by member states.


The joint letter to the Trade Commissioner can be read here.


Signatory organizations:

Access Now

Amnesty International

Brot für die Welt

Committee to Protect Journalists

Fédération internationale pour les droits humains (FIDH)

Human Rights Watch

Privacy International

Reporters sans frontières (RSF)

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Updated on 09.06.2020