7 Nov 2019, 19.12
The International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’ is recommending a moratorium on on-line micro-targeted political advertising containing false or misleading information.
The International Grand Committee (ICG) agreed the proposal after hearing evidence throughout the day in the Seanad Chamber at its third meeting.
Seven countries signed up to a set of principles at the end of the meeting to advance international collaboration in the regulation of social media to combat harmful content, hate speech and electoral interference online.
Speaking at a press conference last night, chair Hildegarde Naughton TD said: “In addition to the set of principles, we have all agreed that individual States should put in place a moratorium on micro-targeted political advertising that contains false or misleading information until such time as regulation is in place.”
She said the issue of misleading political ads on-line was a common theme during the day’s evidence.
The countries that signed up to the principles are Ireland, Australia, Finland, Estonia, Singapore, UK and USA.
It was the third meeting of the ICG. The ICG met for the first time in Westminster at the end of 2019 and in Ottawa in May 2019.
The International Grand Committee Members agreed the following set of principles in the interest of advancing international collaboration in the regulation of harmful content, hate speech and electoral interference online:
- Online harmful content and disinformation are complex problems which require political and civic collaboration to combat; left unchecked, these problems will undermine our civic space and democratic institutions.
- The work of the International Grand Committee has proven valuable in highlighting the issue of disinformation and desires this work to continue.
- The Committee continues to recognise the conflicting principles that sometimes apply to the regulation of the internet, including the aim to protect freedom of speech, in accordance with national laws, while, at the same time, countering abusive speech and disinformation.
- There is need for full transparency regarding the source, targeting methodology and levels of funding for all online political advertising but such controls should not be interpreted as a blanket ban on advertising relating to the political sphere.
- The Committee believes that global technology firms cannot on their own be responsible in combatting harmful content, hate speech and electoral interference and that self-regulation is insufficient.
- Technology companies should be fully accountable and answerable to national legislatures and other organs of representative democracy.
- The internet is global and accordingly it is vital that an internationally collaborative approach is taken with regard to regulation.
- The Committee recognises the initiatives taken by individual countries and non-governmental organisations in this space, but these require more co-ordination across national boundaries.
- The Committee therefore recognises the need for a dedicated international space which provides such co-ordination of internet regulations and commit to work with governments and relevant multilateral organisations in the establishment of such governance structures.