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EU ministers pledge to protect journalists and freedom of expression

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – Ministers from 47 Council of Europe member states have agreed to seek new regulations to protect freedom of expression online and in the media, amid growing fears that artificial intelligence is not used to curtail that right, officials said on Friday.

The ministers responsible for the media and the information society also called on the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization, to help draw up national action plans to protect journalists. whose security has recently been increasingly threatened.

The commitments were included in documents that ministers adopted after a two-day conference organized by the Council of Europe and the government of Cyprus in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.

Ministers agreed to develop a regulatory framework to ensure that automated tools for creating and disseminating news content do not restrict the right to freedom of expression.

They would also work with developers of artificial intelligence technologies designed to create and distribute online content on editorial rules designed to protect free speech. Journalists would be invited to jointly develop ethical codes promoting the “transparent and responsible” use of artificial intelligence in the newsroom and protecting people online from the exploitation of personal data.

“It is an important commitment of States to be able to say that this freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of our societies and we must protect it”, declared Patrick Penninckx, head of the information society department of the CoE.

“In order to protect democracy, in order to protect societies as we know them, and despite the pandemic, we can ensure that media freedom is not restricted. “

Ministers pledged to support independent media as a bulwark against increasing disinformation and called on the CoE to tighten standards for online content.

They also expressed their commitment to remove “all unnecessary obstacles to free speech” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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