Safeguarding Press Freedom: The Unintended Chill of Misinformation Laws

Safeguarding Press Freedom: The Unintended Chill of Misinformation Laws
Webinar | Monday, October 2, 2023 | 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. EDT

In conversation with:

Gabby Lim, co-author of CIMA’s report and doctoral fellow with The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto
Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, research fellow, German Institute for Global and Area Studies
Dario Milo, member of the High-Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
Lina Attalah, co-founder and chief editor of Mada Masr
Daniel O’Maley, senior digital governance specialist, CIMA (moderator)

On Monday, October 2, CIMA will host a public webinar highlighting findings from its latest report, Chilling Legislation: Tracking the Impact of “Fake News” Laws on Press Freedom Internationally.

The spread of misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information (MDM) has severe ramifications for freedom of the press and democratic processes. However, governments around the world are increasingly using MDM as a pretense for cracking down on independent journalism—CIMA research found 105 MDM laws were passed in 78 countries between 2011 and 2022. While not all laws addressing MDM negatively impact press freedom, a significant number of them are having a chilling effect, with the values underpinning democratic societies at risk.

By recognizing both the threat that MDM and the counter legislation pose to the freedom of press, the speakers will discuss the challenges of addressing the rampant spread of online misinformation while protecting media freedom and upholding digital rights.

Gabby Lim, co-author of CIMA’s report on the impact of MDM laws, has an extensive background in MDM research and media manipulation, and an in-depth understanding of counterstrategies. Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri‘s research focuses on democratization and autocratization, with recent publicizations on how countries in Southeast Asia have used the pretense of combatting the spread MDM to control digital spaces. Dario Milo, attorney and global expert in media and free speech law, has a unique insight into how strategic legal intervention can be used to threaten journalists and democracy itself. Lina Attalah will be sharing her perspective from her own experiences with MDM laws. Lina and four other journalists at Mada Masr, independent investigative news outlet in Egypt, were arrested after they published an article on the nation’s political corruption. As the legal environment increasingly forces journalists towards self-censorship, journalists continue to face intimidation, arrests and detainment for sharing crucial information with the public under misinformation laws.