UN Human Rights Council 47 Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

Thank you Madam President,

We welcome this thoughtful and detailed report. The UK agrees that disinformation can have a serious effect on human rights and public perceptions of democratic institutions. States have an obligation to ensure that their responses to disinformation and misinformation are in line with international human rights law. This includes states taking a proportionate approach to ensuring that businesses do not act in a way that restricts freedom of expression and other human rights.

We oppose attempts to restrict freedom of expression, through the guise of countering disinformation, including blocking access to the internet, intimidating journalists and preventing them operating freely, and overly restrictive legislation.

The UK takes its obligations seriously. We ensure freedom of expression and a range of opinion through a free media. Our online harms laws will usher in a new era of accountability for tech companies that will uphold free expression and plurality online. And we are working with social media platforms to support the introduction of systems and processes that promote authoritative sources of information. To tackle the threat of COVID-19, we are helping them identify and take action to remove incorrect claims about the virus.

Madame Special Rapporteur, what steps should states take to ensure they too tackle disinformation while protecting human rights and supporting media freedom?

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