InteractiveDialogue with the SR on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Interactive Dialogue with Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Statement by the Delegation of the United States

UN Human Rights Council – 47th Session
Geneva, July 2, 2021

As Delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Allison Lombardo

Thank you, Special Rapporteur Khan.

Governments too often use laws allegedly aimed at addressing disinformation or other challenges to suppress independent voices.  For example:

In Algeria, the government blocked independent news websites for allegedly “undermining national unity” and publishing “fake news,” which the government criminalized in 2020.  In Hong Kong, authorities are wielding the National Security Law to dismantle Hong Kong’s autonomy and silence dissenting voices, including independent media.  In Nicaragua, the Ortega regime passed a cyber crimes law to allow up to four-year prison sentences for promoting or distributing “false or misleading information.”  In Russia, the government uses the foreign agent law to target and harass independent media and civil society.

Globally, governments use network restrictions or Internet shutdowns to suppress the free and open exchange of information online, including around elections.  How can stakeholders best work together to counter disinformation while protecting freedom of expression online and offline?