Freedom of expression is ensured when media ownership is diverse and vast, when journalists can collect and spread information of public interest without fear of retaliation, and when citizens and civic organisations are able to choose the most appropriate means to voice their opinions. Privacy and free internet are also crucial components of freedom of expression.
While freedom of expression is considered a fundamental right, there are high-risk factors that are emerging across Europe, including pressures and changes in the media landscape. Freedom of expression is also hindered by attacks and restrictions on investigative and independent journalism, civil society and critical voices. These include police interference, obstruction to covering public authorities’ actions and SLAPPs. Limiting civic organisations’ ability to express themselves on issues deemed ‘political’ is also a breach of freedom of expression. Finally, mass surveillance, espionage and anti-terror legislation also contribute to obstructing freedom of expression in Europe.