Effective Measures Against Harmful Disinformation in the EU in Digital Communication

https://doi.org/10.22364/iscflul.8.2.11 | Pages 143-155 | PDF

Irena Kucina, Dr. iur., Associate Professor
Faculty of Law, University of Latvia, Latvia
Head of the Office of the Presidential Advisers, Latvia
Adviser to the President of the State on Rule of Law and EU Legal Policy, Latvia

Keywords: disinformation, digitalization, European Union, big data, rights to privacy, freedom of speech

Digitalisation has opened new technological horizons before society in terms of creating a better physical world and personal life. Impact of technologies on medicine, reduction of environmental pollution, resource savings and other areas is obvious. Digital technologies kept Latvian parliament (Saeima), government, public institutions, schools and business open or working remotely during pandemic to ensure running of the state, economy and society under restrictions and preventing close contact. Pandemic would have made our lives significantly harder 30 years ago.
Digital revolution is on the rise. Global data output is doubling every year. Just picture hundreds of thousands of Google searches and Facebook entries we generate every minute. They convey valuable information about what we think and experience.
It has also become apparent that technological euphoria has clouded our vision and we have failed to spot the threats to democracy, human rights and freedoms. Digitalisation come with great opportunities, but it also poses enormous risks, especially for democracy and rule of law.
On 15 December 2020, European Commission announced two new legislative proposals (proposals for regulation) – Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act . Their main objective is to make internet safer for people who use it, in particular, for buying goods and services, and for the first time ever these regulations also contain provisions regarding reduction of threats to democracy and rule of law emanating from digital tools.
This paper analyses two significant legal risks associated with digitalisation that need to be mentioned: Big Data threats to fundamental human rights such as privacy (I) and threats to freedom of speech on social media (II), which are then evaluated from the perspective of interconnected legislative proposals announced by the Commission on 15 December 2020 (Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act), followed by an assessment of how well they address (or not) the aforementioned risks (III). In conclusion, paper offers several proposals on how Latvia should address these issues during consultation process (IV).