The Freedom Online Coalition, FOC has called on governments to respect human rights and ensure free, open, reliable and secure internet even as they address the challenges of disinformation.
The FOC in its ‘Joint Statement on Spread of Disinformation Online’, had expressed deep concern about the growing scope and sophistication of disinformation, which has been employed by state and non-state actors with political, ideological, commercial or other motives.
The FOC is also concerned that “Disinformation can erode public trust in democratic processes and institutions, and undermine public health initiatives. It may further marginalize voices from persons belonging to minorities, fracture community cohesion, polarize societies and incite discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and violence.”
The FOC thereafter called on governments to “abstain from conducting and sponsoring disinformation campaigns, and condemn such acts” stressing the need to “Address disinformation while ensuring a free, open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet, and fully respecting human rights.”
FOC also noted that it is important that governments “improve coordination and multi-stakeholder cooperation, including with the private sector and civil society, to address disinformation in a manner that respects human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
“Implement any measures, including legislation introduced to address disinformation, in a manner that complies with international human rights law and does not lead to restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ICCR.
“Respect, protect and fulfill the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information regardless of frontiers, taking into account the important and valuable guidance of human rights treaty bodies,” it added.