European ministers responsible for media and information society will meet online on 10 and 11 June to discuss the ways to address the challenges to freedom of expression brought by massive digitalisation in the media and information environment including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and by the serious backsliding in the safety of journalists.
Jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the Cypriot government under the theme “Artificial Intelligence-Intelligent Politics, Challenges and opportunities for media and democracy”, the conference aims to secure the political engagement of the Council of Europe and its 47 member states to a number of priority actions and to map the future work of the organisation in the fields of media and information society.
New digital technologies driven by AI have created new opportunities for the exercise of freedom of expression, allowing access to vast amounts of information but also generating risks of targeted persuasion and manipulation.
Search engines and social media platforms have caused a structural shift in the information environment putting at risk the business model of traditional media and favouring the dissemination of information based on virality rather than quality, also creating major risks for the spread of disinformation. At the same time, journalists face increasing obstacles to do their work safely and are often the target of physical attacks and intimidation.
Aiming to address these challenges, the ministers are expected to adopt a political declaration and four resolutions on issues such as the impact of AI products and processes on freedom of expression and the possibility of introducing regulation to ensure more transparency in the dissemination of news to combat disinformation notably during electoral periods.
Other issues to be considered are the need for measures to improve the safety of journalists, for example, through dedicated national action plans for the protection of journalists and other media actors, and ways to reinforce the resilience of freedom of expression protection safeguards in member states in times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Representatives from civil society, media, and freedom of expression experts will also participate in the conference.
In a “world-café” format, ministers will have to opportunity to receive first-hand accounts from local and community media representatives on projects aimed at improving the access of marginalised communities to media during the pandemic, and from media freedom experts on best practices to enhance the protection of journalists.
President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, Council of Europe’s secretary general Marija Pejcinovic, and Foreign Affairs Minister of Hungary Peter Szijjarto, representing the Hungarian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, will speak at the opening. Keynote speakers include Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic and European Commission vice-president Vera Jourova.
Amal Clooney, deputy chair of the High Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, and David Kaye, independent board chair of the Global Network Initiative, will make special interventions.
The conference will be streamed live on the conference website except for a ministerial roundtable for the discussion and adoption of the conference declaration and resolutions.
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