Joint Declaration On Freedom Of Expression And “Fake News”, Disinformation And Propaganda
On 3 March 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information have issued a Joint Declaration on freedom of expression, focusing this year on “fake news”, disinformation and propaganda.
The Declaration identifies the human rights standards that should apply to any efforts to deal with disinformation and propaganda, encourages the promotion of diversity and plurality in the media, and emphasizes the particular roles played by digital intermediaries as well as journalists and media outlets.
The declaration emphasises that states may restrict freedom of expression if in compliance with international law for example to prohibit advocacy of hatred on protected grounds that constitutes incitement to violence, discrimination or hostility. Legal measures should have effect beyond national borders. The complete blocking websites or filtering content without consent of the end-user are however hardly justifiable as a restriction on freedom of expression. Intermediaries (such as social media platform) cannot be held liable, unless they don’t respond to legal orders to take down content. The declaration also highlights the need for educational measures to be supported.