Reacting to the news that the Malaysian government has tabled a vaguely-defined bill in parliament ostensibly outlawing “fake news”, which could land those found guilty with a 10-year prison term, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“This bill is an assault on freedom of expression. The vague and broad definition of ‘fake news’, combined with severe punishments and arbitrary arrest powers for police, shows that this is nothing but a blatant attempt to shield the government from peaceful criticism. This bill must be scrapped immediately.
“Malaysia has a long and troubling track record of using its legal books to silence dissent. It is no coincidence that this law has been tabled with general elections just around the corner. We are already seeing how the government is closing the space for public debate ahead of the polls.
“It is deeply disturbing that the Malaysian authorities are using the catch-all term ‘fake news’ as an excuse to crack down on critics. The Bill combines the worst of the cheap propaganda coming from the West and the repressive laws and policies in the East. With both Singapore and the Philippines considering their own ‘fake news’ legislation, we call on all countries in the region to refrain from following this dangerous trend.”
Published on Amnesty International on March 26, 2018
The Council of Europe today adopted policy guidelines addressed to its 47 member states on the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries such as search engines and social media.
The power of such intermediaries as protagonists of online expression is such that their role and impact on human rights, as well as their corresponding responsibilities, should be clarified.
In its Recommendation on the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries, the Committee of Ministers – the executive body of the organisation- therefore calls on states to provide a human rights and rule of law-based framework that lays out the main obligations of the states with respect to the protection and promotion of human rights in the digital environment, and the respective responsibilities of intermediaries.
The recommendation calls on states to create a safe and enabling online environment where intermediaries, users and all affected parties know their rights and duties, to encourage the development of appropriate self- and co-regulatory frameworks, and to ensure the availability of redress mechanisms for all claims of violations of human rights in the digital environment.
It also underlines the importance of more transparency being introduced in all processes of content moderation. Media and literacy programmes should be promoted to enable users to enjoy the benefits of the online environment, while minimising their exposure to risks.
Published on COE on March 7, 2018
By Madalin Necsutu
“In the last few years in Moldova, we cannot talk about progress, but more about regression,” Nadine Gogu, executive director of the Independent Journalism Centre in Chisinau, told the Media Policy Forum in the Moldovan capital on Tuesday.
The biggest problems identified by the speakers at the forum related to the increasing politicisation of the country’s media and the alleged concentration of ownership in the hands of proxies for the ruling party, which was described as a threat to the country’s democracy.
The president of the Moldovan parliament, Andrian Candu, told the forum however that “it is important that the media should be allowed to raise its economic capacity”.
Candu argued that the media should have more access to public information and that the debates at the forum should help politicians to improve mass media legislation in Moldova.
But Moldovan media NGOs complained about the unwillingness of the authorities to offer more rights to journalists.
Freedom House described Moldova as a country with a ‘partly free’ press in its 2017 Freedom of the Press index.
Participants at a panel moderated by Tim Judah, a special correspondent for The Economist, stressed the need to increase the level of media literacy in the country as a tool to combat propaganda and so-called ‘fake news’.
The director of Romanian Centre for Independent Journalism, Ioana Avadanei, described a successful media literacy programme that was implemented in some schools in Romania with young pupils.
“It is not so much fake news that causes trouble, it is disinformation that comes in many shapes and form and it’s not only about banning content from social media, it is about how to educate people today,” Avadanei said.
BIRN’s Macedonia Country director Ana Petruseva noted how investigative journalism had played a very significant role in the fight against the concentration of media power and the disinformation spread by government-controlled media in Macedonia over the past few years.
“We had a situation when on three to four private TV stations, we could see the same exact report... the only different thing was the voiceover,” Petruseva recalled.
The Media Policy Forum was organised in Chisinau by Freedom House, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation and Internews, and co-sponsored by USAID, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and BIRN.
Published on Balkan Insight on March 13, 2018
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School