Online Disinformation and Political Discourse: Applying a Human Rights Framework

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Publication Date November 2019
ISBN 978-1-78413-374-0
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Although some digital platforms now have an impact on more people’s lives than does any one state authority, the international community has been slow to hold to account these platforms’ activities by reference to human rights law. This paper examines how human rights frameworks should guide digital technology.

There is a widespread desire to tackle online interference with elections and political discourse. To date, much of the debate has focused on what processes should be established without adequate consideration of what norms should underpin those processes. Human rights law should be at the heart of any discussion of regulation, guidance, corporate or societal responses. The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation has recently reached a similar conclusion, stating ‘there is an urgent need to examine how time-honoured human rights frameworks and conventions should guide digital cooperation and digital technology’. This paper attempts to contribute to this examination.

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