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The European Union at War With Disinformation

The European Union at War With Disinformation

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Functioning in an information society generates a number of challenges that both economic operators and private citizens must face. The foundation of a healthy system relies on the ability to sift true information from false, which today is becoming increasingly difficult in an increasingly complex and technological world.

Fake news in the era of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine

The free market, which has introduced a number of life-enhancing web applications, websites and other solutions, has also led to the proliferation of countless and uncontrollable sources of fake news. Whilst facing challenges from the war in Ukraine and the information crisis related to the Covid-19 pandemic and lacking any robust system to identify fake news, this proliferation could potentially engender dire economic, political or social consequences.

Surveillance or censorship – how far does freedom of expression extend?

For a long time, the fascination with social media and the unconditional freedom to post any content online did not give rise to the need for any kind of control and, as a result, any potential surveillance of online information evokes negative connotations, including thoughts of a ‘big brother’ society watching us all, whilst imposing mass censorship and blocking freedom of expression.

And rightly so – the freedom to express one’s views and to obtain and disseminate information is a constitutional value on which modern society is built and, as such, should give rise to a special sensitivity.

However, it seems that in times when the dissemination of information is becoming weaponised and a means of inciting social unrest, instruments will be needed not so much to censor content as to categorise it and clearly indicate what Internet users are dealing with.

EU code to fight fake news

One such instrument is the new Code of Practice on Disinformation aimed at entities whose business is based on the distribution of information.

The new code is not a typical source of EU law. Nonetheless, it imposes responsibility on major global media outlets, such as Google, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok, for the quality of information provided to consumers.

  • What specifically are the signatories of the code obliged to do?
  • What is the nature of this legislation?
  • What happens if the signatories do not comply with the new code?

By Mateusz Ostrowski, Partner, and Bartlomiej Galos, Junior Associate, Kochanski & Partners

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