Fake news and Freedom of Press: can the EU ever find the fine line?

Press conference by Mariya Gabriel, Member of the EC, and Madeleine de Cock Buning, Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on fake news and online disinformation
Date: 12/03/2018 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont
© European Union , 2018.
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service Photo: Lukasz Kobus

The European Commission attempts to tackle disinformation which is spread online by building up strategic measures in the EU. Last January, the EC assigned to a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) to define the problem and propose concrete recommendations on how it can be dealt.

The report which was completed last month sets this issue as multi-dimensional and that it should be treated as such. It thus proposes short-term measures to the most pressing problems and long-term initiatives to strengthen society.

Disinformation: a multi-dimensional approach

First of all, the HLEG defines disinformation as a “phenomenon which includes all forms of false, inaccurate, or misleading information designed, presented and promoted to intentionally cause public harm or for profit”. According to the report, democratic political values are threatened by the creation and promotion of disinformation for financial gains or political goals. The HLEG mentions that simplistic approaches such as internet fragmentation and public or private censorship are not recommended.

On the contrary, a multi-dimensional approach is promoted based on five pillars. Transparency of online news is the first one where HLEG’s proposal is to make all the information available to the reader. Promotion of information literacy and strengthening of journalists and users are the second and third pillars respectively. Furthermore, it is imperative to protect the sustainability of the EU media news ecosystem and to continuously evaluate the disinformation issue and propose up-to-date solutions.

Code of Practice for platforms

The HLEG has proposed a code of principles which should be followed by platforms in order to ensure quality news and online information. According to this code, the platforms have to transform their advertising policies so as to be clear and transparent where it is prevented to use disinformation for profit.

The user’s data must be processed in a transparent way with respect to each user privacy and freedom of expression. What is more, platforms should provide users with visible options to access trustworthy news and create a user-friendly environment providing the opportunity to connect with trusted fact-checking sources.

With regards to the issue, Sir Julian King, the European commissioner for security, expressed his concern on how social media can function during political campaigns. More specifically, the European commissioner wrote a letter to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, on March 19 according to the Financial Times: “The psychometric targeting activities such as those of Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis company, are just a preview of the profoundly disturbing effects such disinformation could have on the functioning of liberal democracies. It is clear that the cyber-security threat we are facing is changing from one primarily targeting systems to one that is also increasingly about deploying cyber means to manipulate behaviour, deepen societal divides, subvert our democratic systems and raise questions about our democratic institutions”.

The HLEG has suggested that this Code should be self-regulated in the short and medium- run and all shareholders including online platforms, news media organisations, journalists, fact-checkers, independent content creators and the advertising industry have to comply with the principles, roles and responsibilities of the Code.

Education is a key factor

But who can decide on the way media work and judge them at the end of the day? The only one who should criticize media must be the reader and it should be up to him to decide and distinguish among “fake” and “non-fake” news.  According to critics, this work faces the risk of undermining freedom of expression and publishers’ rights.

A group of lawyers complained to the EU ombudsman last week saying that: “The EU Disinformation Review seeks to control the right to freedom of expression by labelling publishers as disinformation outlets and their content as disinformation, creating a chilling effect on the work of journalists that is central to democracy”. Furthermore, the group mentioned that the EU cannot decide whether a publication is producing disinformation as it does not have a clear and reliable approach.

Instead, more attention should be paid to the educational system enhancement provided to the EU citizens in order to be able to understand false or inaccurate information which is meant to harm and mislead them intentionally. Thus, people should be in the position of evaluating the accuracy of the information in a more efficient way while freedom of speech would not be violated.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

Conflicts and extreme climate change threatens access to food in 39 countries – UN agriculture report

Changing for the change: Medicine in Industry 4.0

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Here are 6 big ideas to help the environment

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

Look Mom, even the House of Lords says the #righttobeforgotten is not right

UN chief ‘alarmed’ by violations of UN-backed ceasefire in Libya

ILO: Progress on gender equality at work remains inadequate

Will Eurozone be able to repay its debts? Is a bubble forming there?

An entrepreneurial point-of view on tackling the migration crisis and the risks of abolishing Schengen

This Syrian national has been trapped at Kuala Lumpur airport for 3 months

How women are transforming the Arab world’s start-up scene

Youth Internationalization: part of everyday life in JADE

Elections in Britain may reserve a surprise for May’s Tories

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

The Indian case: health policies need to keep pace with public health literacy

Easing funding woes for UN agency assisting Palestine refugees a ‘wise investment for today and the future’

A renewed agenda for Research and Innovation: Europe’s chance to shape the future

Women in Iceland have walked out of work to dispute the gender pay gap

MEPs propose measures to combat mobbing and sexual harassment

No barriers to free flow of non-personal data in the EU

Has the treacherous theory about the ‘French patient’ finally prevailed?

The completion of the European Banking Union attracts billions of new capital for Eurozone banks

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Youth employment crisis easing but far from over

On Kristallnacht anniversary, UN chief urges renewed fight against ‘crime’ of anti-Semitism

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

VW emissions scandal: EU unable to protect its consumers against large multinationals

Trump’s trade war splits the EU; Germany upset with Juncker’s “we can be stupid too”

Community Manager – 1289

Oleg Sentsov awarded the 2018 Sakharov Prize

The European Parliament double-checks the EU 2014-2020 budget

Nagasaki is ‘a global inspiration’ for peace, UN chief says marking 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

Skeptic France about Trump-Juncker trade deal favoring German cars; EU’s unity in peril

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

In the future of work it’s jobs, not people, that will become redundant

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

Switzerland to introduce strict restrictions on executive pay

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

Austerity lovers to put a break on Renzi’s growth vision for Europe? the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Draghi: printing a full extra trillion non negotiable to help all borrow cheaply

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

UN chief welcomes event reuniting families on the Korean Peninsula

This is how AI can help you make sense of the world

EU Commission expects consumer spending to unlock growth

This is why Dutch teenagers are among the happiest in the world

Draghi left alone with no hope of boosting EU growth as Merkel just focuses on next elections

EU and China seize momentum to enhance trade agreements in response to Trump’s administration

TTIP update: postponed vote and INTA meeting shuffle cards again

Chinese economy to raise speed and help the world grow

Child victims of DRC Ebola outbreak need ‘special attention and care’: UNICEF

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: Banking moguls continue brandishing financial Armageddon to intimidate us all but in Davos they worry about the very distant future

Governments can fight corruption by joining the digital payment revolution

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s