IGF 2023 WS #315 The Unintended Chill of Digital Disinformation Laws


Human Rights & Freedoms
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Daniel OMaley, ๐Ÿ”’
Organizer 2: Morgan Frost, ๐Ÿ”’

Speaker 1: Hon Alhagie Mbow, Government, African Group
Speaker 2: Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Will Church, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Shushan Doydoyan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Daniel OMaley, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Morgan Frost, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Daniel OMaley, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How can governments ensure that laws aimed at combating disinformation and misinformation do not undermine press freedom and the principles of free expression?
B. What measures can be taken to protect the rights of journalists and promote a free and independent media in the face of new laws targeting disinformation and misinformation?
C. What role do platforms and their content moderation policies have in terms of both combating false information on their platforms as well as supporting press freedom?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the policy implications of these laws and the ways in which they can impact press freedom and human rights. They will learn about specific cases in different regional contexts. This cross-regional analysis and comparison will allow participants to gain a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which these laws can impact press freedom and human rights in different contexts, and how policy solutions can be tailored to specific regional needs. Through engaging in discussions around the policy issues outlined above, participants will also gain insights into the complex trade-offs between accountability and accuracy on the one hand, and free speech and press freedom on the other. This will help participants to appreciate the need for policy solutions that balance these competing interests in a way that protects human rights and supports a free and independent media.



In recent years, there has been a surge in the implementation of laws targeting disinformation and misinformation on the internet. Notably, since 2011, 78 countries have enacted new legislation with the aim of curbing the spread of false or misleading information on social media platforms. Many of these laws were passed during the pandemic, specifically targeting health disinformation. While these laws are ostensibly intended to promote accountability and accuracy in information sharing, there are growing concerns regarding their potential adverse effects on press freedom and online human rights globally. This workshop aims to delve into the repercussions of these laws on journalistic freedom, taking into account the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. The discussions will explore the ongoing challenge of striking a balance between accountability and safeguarding free speech in the context of combating disinformation and misinformation online.

The panel discussion will feature a diverse group of experts from various backgrounds, including media, government, and civil society. Hailing from regions such as Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia, bring a wealth of experiences and expertise in examining the issue from their respective stakeholder angles. One of the primary goals of the discussion is to foster cross-regional knowledge sharing, facilitating a deeper understanding of the developments and challenges occurring in different parts of the world. By incorporating diverse perspectives and promoting collaborative dialogue, the panel aims to explore the implications of the topic within specific regional contexts while seeking common ground and shared solutions. Participants will be encouraged to share their perspectives and engage in a lively discussion on how to address the challenges of misinformation and disinformation while preserving the principles of a free and open society.

Expected Outcomes

Overall, the expected outcomes of the workshop are to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by new laws targeting disinformation and misinformation, and to support the development of policy solutions that promote a free and independent media and protect human rights. As a tangible outcome, the workshop will result in a blog post that summarizes the key learnings of the session and provides insights into the policy implications of new laws targeting disinformation and misinformation. This blog post will be widely shared on social media and other channels, ensuring that the insights gained from the workshop reach a broad audience. Additionally, the workshop will help to foster collaboration between stakeholders from different sectors and regions, and contribute to the development of policy solutions that prioritize human rights and press freedom.

Hybrid Format: To ensure that the workshop accommodates both in-person and virtual participants, the session will be designed to allow for maximum engagement from all participants. One way to achieve this will be by using a hybrid panel format, with some speakers participating in person and others joining remotely. The session will be moderated in a way that ensures all speakers have equal opportunities to contribute, and virtual participants have equal access to the discussion. The moderator will actively encourage interaction between in-person and virtual participants through Q&A sessions or live polls, fostering engagement and inclusivity. Additionally, the session will be recorded and made available online for later viewing, ensuring that those unable to attend the workshop can still benefit from the valuable content.