The Right to Information;
Freedom of Expression and Restrictions;
The realization of human rights in the information environment requires the search for the balances between participants in the communication processes and is associated with new challenges for the rule of law and civil society. On the one hand, there is the right to freedom of expression and access to the information in the public interest, on the other – legal and ethical restrictions protecting the interests of individuals and states.
The online media and social media environment needs to reduce radicalism and conflict: the hate speech rhetoric spreading on the Internet multiplies intolerance on the basis of gender, national, religious or sexual identity. Under these conditions, the civil society and professional participants of the media environment are entrusted with the mission of disseminating legal and ethical standards of working with information. At the same time, the society has to confront the attempts of censorship and unreasonable state control over the dissemination of information.
The members of the Working Group advocate respect for human rights and the implementation of freedom of expression offline and online in accordance with the “standards” enshrined in international law and developed by the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and the European Court for Human Rights as well as recommendations of reputable civil society organisations.
Within the group there are two working platforms:
- Media Literacy Area
Today skills of work with information are necessary for both advanced participants of media sphere and ordinary users.
Media literacy implies critical attitude to the information obtained through the media, ability to analyse it, identify related to it economic, political, social and cultural interests, and consciously exercise the right to freedom of expression.
According to the Council of Europe position, media education in its broad sense must become part of the concept of learning throughout a person’s life.
Media literacy area is aimed at the collection, development and distribution of universal analysis tools as well as verification of information, promotion of legal and ethical standards for creating and disseminating information offline and online among professionals and a wider audience.
- Platform for overcoming “Hate Speech”
The rise of far-right and national populist parties and movements in Europe brings the topic of hate speech to agenda. Many civic activists are concerned about the spread of hate speech in the media and on Internet – above all in social networks – and advocate for a tougher and more effective policy to combat it. By and large, it is a matter of countering an increasingly wide range of intolerance forms.
At the same time, in both authoritarian and democratic countries we see a growing tendency towards excessive restriction of freedom of speech for the sake (or on the pretext) of protecting security of the state and society.
Under these conditions, taking side is not easy for civic activists. But even for those activists who have a very firm position and are not ready to compromise – hate speech fighters or, on the contrary, freedom of speech advocates – listening to a different way of argumentation might be useful.
This platform is aimed at the collection and publication of legal and quasi-legal documents (up to corporate codes of conduct) regulating the balance between the freedom of speech and protection from hate speech, as well as shaping and maintaining the platform for discussion of acute issues emerging during the process of finding this balance.
WORKING GROUP COORDINATORS
Leonid Nikitinsky Legal and Media Center (Russia)
Human Rights Youth Education Network (Belgium)