[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]
Mr Reza Reflussmen (MAG, Indonesia IGF) and Ms Irene Poetranto (Citizen Lab, University of Toronto) opened by discussing the simultaneous growth of the Internet along with the spread of negative content. Fake news has generally been described as disinformation, illegal content, misleading or false content. In a multicultural, multi-ethnic society as greater access is accompanied by a lack of increase in digital literacy, there is greater potential for widespread violence due to the spread of fake news.
Many governments face these issues. In Indonesia, for example, the government has shut down access to the Internet twice in 2019. While the rationale rests on curbing the spread ofof fake news, the decision-making and implementation processes were not multistakeholder and lacked transparency.Mr Damar Juniarto (Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network [SAFEnet]) echoed concerns over cases where governments use fake news as an excuse to silence criticism. In South-East Asia in particular, there are laws that limit freedom of expression already and there is a phenomenon where governments are granting themselves necessary power to remove any narrative that does not align with their official position.
Mr Matthias Spielkamp (Executive Director, AlgorithmWatch) described the situation in Germany, where two years ago the Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) was passed mainly to target Facebook. Concerns about the law were raised as to whether this regulation encourages overblocking of content due to the size of applicable fines. The law mandates that social networks exceeding two million users in Germany are required to maintain legal documentation related to the complaints (§2 NetzDG) and cannot redirect private citizens’ complaints. There was also a call for social networks and platforms to be liable for the content they host and have measures to remove illegal content at the request of the user. In some European countries, governments are addressing fake news from a national security and cybersecurity perspective. Regulating fake news in Europe appears to be a difficult task due to the complex lawmaking process among the 28 member states. While the desire is for a multistakeholder process to determine the best way forward, it is difficult to coordinate and ensure that with the varying legal frameworks that consensus on the best approach is arrived at.
By Andre Edwards