The HBI expert legal opinion "Disinformation - Risks, Regulatory Gaps and Adequate Countermeasures", commissioned by the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW [Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia], provides a differentiated understanding of various forms of disinformation and their risk potentials for individuals and society. Furthermore, it provides an overview of current laws against the targeted dissemination of false information and shows concrete approaches for a future regulation of disinformation.
The expert legal opinion was presented on Tuesday, 9 November 2021, as part of the event "Safeguarding Freedom – Balancing Rights
Press release of the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW
REGULATION OF DISINFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
Medienanstalt NRW [Media Authority NRW] publishes expert opinion of the Leibniz Institute for Media Research on adequate measures against disinformation
Summary of the expert opinion as PDF, in German
The prevention of disinformation campaigns without endangering the right to freedom of expression is one of the most urgent challenges for our democracies. The expert opinion of the Leibniz Institute for Media Research "Disinformation - Risks, Regulatory Gaps and Adequate Countermeasures", commissioned by the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW, offers initial approaches. It was presented on Tuesday, 9 November 2021, as part of the event "Safeguarding Freedom - Balancing Rights", which was organised by the media institutions together with the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW [Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia] and the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union.
The aim of the expert opinion was to gain a differentiated understanding of risks to individual rights and societal interests and of laws already in place against the targeted dissemination of misinformation. In addition, concrete approaches for a possible future regulation of disinformation should be identified. "The top priority in the fight against disinformation is the protection of freedom of opinion - and thus also the principle of state neutrality. The fear of state interference remains one of the greatest fears when it comes to reacting to false news. And if one looks in particular at an actor from outside Europe, this does not seem to be entirely unfounded. Regulation of disinformation, which aims to enable a free and independent formation of opinion, cannot be enforced by state measures," demands Dr. Tobias Schmid, Director of the Landesanstalt für Medien NRW and European Commissioner of the Media Authorities.
This was also confirmed by the representatives of the EU Commission, EU Vice-President Věra Jourová and her Head of Cabinet Renate Nikolay during the event. They emphasise the important role of media supervision in the fight against disinformation and call on all stakeholders to work on an effective reform of the Code of Practice on Disinformation. This was signed by the platforms Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft in 2018 and contains extensive voluntary commitments by market participants in dealing with political advertising and disinformation.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research states, "The governance of disinformation is complex. There are no simple solutions for it in a constitutional state, even if one might wish there were such solutions. As a rule, the state can only attach consequences to the untruthfulness of a statement if an independent body - such as a court - has verified it. In view of the volume of communication on the internet, this must be limited to extreme cases. Depending on the potential danger, very different actors are called upon to take countermeasures. In addition to classic forms of self-regulation, new forms of hybrid governance are needed here, in which state laws, non-state regulation and provider-owned forms of control are closely intertwined."
The European Commission's revision of the Code of Practice on Disinformation is an important pillar in the fight against disinformation on major platforms. At the same time, it is important to promote society's resilience to disinformation campaigns and to invest in media literacy. These important areas of work were also highlighted during the digital conference and with a view to the work of various European media regulators.
The summary of the expert opinion from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research, written by Dr. Stephan Dreyer
, Elena Stanciu, Keno Potthast
and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz
, is now available for download.
Summary of the expert opinion as PDF, in English
Expert opinion as PDF, in German
Expert opinion as PDF, in English
Further information on the preparation of the expert opinion can be found here