Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society of the European Council: key points


On 10 and 11 June 2021, the ministerial conference “Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Smart Policy – Challenges and Opportunities for Media and Democracy” of the European Council was attended by 350 participants from national governments and international organisations, civil society, media and academia.

Around 40 European ministers responsible for media and information society attended and discussed the impact of artificial intelligence technologies on freedom of expression, the changing media and information environment, the safety of journalists, and the protection of freedom of expression in times of crisis.

The meeting resulted in a final declaration and several resolutions defining the priority areas and actions of the Council of Europe for the protection of freedom of expression. These four resolutions cover the following topics :

  • Freedom of expression and digital technologies, including a commitment to engage stakeholders involved in the design, development and deployment of AI and other digital technologies ensuring fundamental rights;
  • The protection of journalists, recalling in particular that violence against media actors is an attack on democracy;
  • The evolution of the media and information environment, including ensuring that certain marginalised citizens can receive a sufficient range of information, and considering the development of ethical codes for media actors including online platforms;
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on freedom of expression, especially in the sense that freedom of expression and access to information must be guaranteed in times of crisis. As such, laws and policies aimed at silencing the opposition and other obstacles aimed at reducing the scope for free and pluralistic public debate must be removed.

On the issue of new technologies, the ministers consider the introduction of binding legal standards, subjecting automated systems and processes to regulatory conditions. Natural language processing tools, robot journalism and algorithmically prepared information flows could thus be used in strict compliance with the right to information and freedom of expression.

The ethical codes considered could thus include rules for the media and online platforms aimed at promoting transparent and responsible use of artificial intelligence tools, but also of personal data whose uncontrolled use is risky.

Artificial intelligence would thus be used for the creation, moderation and distribution of online content while ensuring the development of future regulation.

In this context, the Ministers invited the European Council to reflect on the establishment of new standards for online content responsibility, taking into account the changing media environment.

By the IP-IT-Media team of UGGC Avocats.

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