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“We challenge actors in the digital age”−Sebastián Becker, Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights

Sebastián Becker Castellaro defends freedom of expression in the online sphere as a Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights (EDRi). He focusses on platform regulation and policies counter disinformation and ‘surveillance advertising’, the systematic harvesting, marketing, and use of personal data in the online advertising industry. Before joining EDRi, Sebastian worked for several human rights organisations, including Derechos Digitales and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

What does the change you are trying to achieve look like? Why is the EU important?

We work to challenge private and public actors who abuse their power in the digital age. We promote and protect human rights in a connected world, advocating for robust laws to protect people's rights in the digital context. We monitor policies such as the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act. We believe that the role of the EU is crucial as its legislation affects millions of people in 27 different countries and has a huge impact beyond the EU's borders.

My current priority is the European Media Freedom Act. The fight we are leading is for a ban on spyware against journalists and journalistic sources. We believe that these practices undermine the fundamental rights of media workers who play a crucial role in democracies as 'public watchdogs'. Transparency and rules for political advertising are also an important issue. We want politicians to stop using sensitive data such as- information on our mental health, sexual orientation or religion to target citizens online with personalised political advertising.

All these discussions are taking place at EU level, so we need to show policymakers the huge impact these practices have on democracy and human rights.

Which challenges are you facing?

The lack of capacity is a challenge. It takes a lot of work to influence every single step in the EU decision-making process. We do not have the staff and resources as the private sector to be involved in all the relevant processes that we would need, so we have to prioritise and focus.

One tip you want to share with other public interest advocates?

Keep your values and objectives in mind and build your strategy. I think it is very important to understand the policy cycle and legislative making-process of the EU. We should not just focus only on one institution, but on all the institutions involved and be aware that every single vote counts.


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