Q3/2019 - International Conferences

Global Pledge on Media Freedom, London, 11 July 2019

At a conference organised by the British government and dealing with the role of the media in the digital age, the special responsibility of social networks and platforms in building democracy was the key issue[1]. The British government wants to support efforts to this end, also on an institutional level, also with a view to the changing business models for traditional media, and here in particular with regard to the challenges the print sector has to face. A “Media Freedom Coalition” was established at the conference, which shall be headed by a “Media Freedom Contact Group”. The aim of the Coalition will be to help combat fake news and hate speech. A “High Level Panel on Legal Experts”[2] shall assess concrete cases of misconduct. The results of the London conference were welcome by the G7 Summit in Biarritz in August 2019. 

The Common Good in the Digital Age, Vatikan, Rome 27 September 2019

On 27 September 2019, the Vatican organised an international conference in Rome on “The Common Good in the Digital Age”. The conference, which was attended by multiple cardinals, discussed the role of the Internet and of social media, but also the future of artificial intelligence. Pope Francis met attendants of the conference in Audience. The Pope highlighted the hybrid nature of digital media. He advocated an “interdisciplinary dialogue” and warned against abuse of the technological progress. Artificial intelligence provided new possibilities of manipulating people, he said. This could lead to a new “form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest”. However, the Pope was optimistic that technological progress could serve to create a better world. But to achieve this, an ethic inspired by a vision of the common good of the whole creation was required[3].

Mehr zum Thema
  1. [1] Global Pledge on Media Freedom, London, 11. Juli 2019, Media freedom faces growing threats around the world Journalists and media organisations are increasingly confronted in their vital work by restrictive laws, punitive legal measures, and physical violence. Too often, whether they work with traditional media or on digital platforms, they pay for their commitment with their liberty or their lives. Media freedom is an integral element of global security and prosperity. People need free media to provide them with accurate information and informed analysis if governments are to be held to account. Where journalists and media organisations are free to do their work safely, societies are more prosperous and more resilient. The free exchange of views and information that results allows communities to identify and pursue emerging opportunities and to recognise problems that must be addressed. Attacks on media freedom are attacks on human rights. They entail attacks on the human rights of journalists and those working in media organisations. These rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments and are upheld in the Sustainable Development Goals – rights such as the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to life, liberty, and security of person. Violations and abuses of the rights of journalists and those working in media organisations have a cascading effect on the rights of others, as scrutiny falls away. Too often, it is governments who are the source of threats to media freedom. Governments – which are responsible for protecting human rights – instead are the ones to violate them. Sometimes, governments target individual journalists or media outlets, often violating the right to a fair trial and public hearing and ensuring impunity for perpetrators. Sometimes they put in place unreasonably restrictive legal and regulatory frameworks that make it impossible for journalists to do their work. Sometimes, they distort the information environment intentionally. Where governments are not the source of the problem, they often fail to provide the solutions needed to counter the actions of those who attack media freedom – from terrorist groups to criminal organisations. To counter the threats to media freedom, action is needed both globally and locally. As governments, it is our responsibility to ensure that people in our countries can enjoy all of their human rights and the benefits these bring to society. To focus on solving problems at home is not enough. Restrictive regulatory models can spread from one jurisdiction to the next. Techniques of intimidation that originate in one community soon spread to another. Global digital media platforms are increasingly prevalent and bring with them not only promise of free discourse but also the threat of unlawful surveillance and manipulation. Our governments need to work to ensure that those who violate or abuse the human rights that underpin media freedom – be they governments or private entities – are held to account. We need to offer solidarity to governments that take steps to strengthen the protection of those rights. In the face of threats to media freedom that are new in scale and in nature, we must adopt new forms of collaboration that adapt to new realities. Our approach must be responsive, acting on acute threats as they emerge. It must be strategic, addressing long-term trends and entrenched challenges. We must seek accountability, working with each other and with governments who have not signed this pledge to ensure that governments respect their international human rights obligations. We must take into account all areas that affect media freedom, from encouraging enabling regulatory environments to promoting transparency in judicial processes. We must reach out beyond governments to journalists, media organisations, civil society groups, and other stakeholders, to make this a collaborative effort across society. We must build on the work of other media freedom initiatives and we will advance that work wherever we can. We must fulfill our obligations under international human rights law and build a safer and more prosperous world.“ Siehe: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-pledge-on-media-freedom/global-pledge-on-media-freedom
  2. [2] Die Mitglieder des „High Level Panel of Legal Experts“ sind: Lord David Neuberger, UK (Chair), The Honourable Irwin Cotler, Canada, Hina Jilani, Pakistan, Dario Milo, South Africa, Amal Clooney, UK (Deputy Chair), Sarah Cleveland, US Baroness Helena Kennedy, UK, Nadim Houry, Lebanon, Can Yeğinsu, Turkey/UK, Karuna Nundy, India, Galina Arapova, Russia, Justice Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa, Colombia, Professor Kyung-Sin Park, South Korea, Baroness Françoise Tulkens, Belgium, Catherine Anite, Uganda, Judge Robert D. Sack, US (Adviser to the Panel) https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lord-neuberger-and-amal-clooney-announce-media-freedom-legal-panel-members
  3. [3] Pope addresses ethical challenges of technological progress: Pope Francis meets in Audience with participants at the meeting on the "Common Good in the Digital Age“, Rom, 27. September 2019 „Pope Francis acknowledged “the remarkable developments in the field of technology, in particular those dealing with artificial intelligence”, and how these “raise increasingly significant implications in all areas of human activity”. Referencing his Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, the Pope said “the indisputable benefit that humanity will be able to draw from technological progress depends on the degree to which the new possibilities at our disposal are employed in an ethical manner” He spoke of a “technocratic paradigm” that promises the imposition of uncontrolled and unlimited progress that endangers the whole of humanity. Instead, the Pope encouraged concretely fostering “the culture of encounter and interdisciplinary dialogue”. Pope Francis praised the “inclusive and fruitful dialogue” that characterized the meeting, and that “helps everyone to learn from one another and does not allow anyone to close themselves off in prearranged methodologies”. Commenting on the objectives of the meeting itself, the Pope recognized the challenge of precisely stating “both theoretical and practical moral principles” so that “the ethical challenges examined may be addressed precisely in the context of the common good”. Pope Francis spoke specifically about the positive and negative roles of robots in the workplace: on the one hand, undertaking “arduous and repetitive types of work”, on the other, depriving “thousands of people of work, putting their dignity at risk”. The Pope also addressed the issue of artificial intelligence. While allowing “greater access to reliable information”, AI can also circulate “tendentious opinions and false data” that can “manipulate the opinions of millions of people, to the point of endangering the very institutions that guarantee peaceful civil coexistence”, he said. Pope Francis added a warning: “If so-called technological progress were to become an enemy of the common good”, he said, “this would lead to an unfortunate regression, to a form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest”. “The common good cannot be separated from the specific good of each individual”. The Pope concluded by affirming that “a better world is possible thanks to technological progress, if this is accompanied by an ethic inspired by a vision of the common good, an ethic of freedom, responsibility and fraternity, capable of fostering the full development of people in relation to others and to the whole of creation”. Siehe: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-09/pope-audience-artificial-intelligence-technology.html