EU-28 and G7 Regulations

In this article we have gathered some of the most important regulations, actions and legislative documents covering disinformation in the EU Member States and G7 countries.  This page will be updated regularly.

Last updated on 19/06/2019

G7

G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) is an initiative to strengthen coordination across the G7 in identifying, preventing and responding to threats to G7 democracies. 

Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats, where the leaders of G7 commit to support public learning and civic awareness aimed at promoting critical thinking skills and media literacy on intentionally misleading information, and improving online security and safety. Lastly, to ensure a high level of transparency around sources of funding for political parties and all types of political advertising, especially during election campaigns.

A complete summary of the regulations and actions taken against disinformation on the level of the European Union can be found here.

Belgium

In May 2018, Belgian Minister for the Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo has launched an Expert group and citizen consultation platform to tackle misinformation in the country. The expert group composed of academics, media representatives and NGOs has elaborated several recommendations on the subject adopted by the Belgian authorities (Prime Minister Cabinet). The Dutch version of the recommendations is available via this link.

Canada

In January 2019, the Canadian government announced a multi-pronged effort to combat misinformation by giving $7 million to projects fighting disinformation online ahead of elections in October 2019.
The Critical Election Incident Public Protocol lays out a simple, clear and impartial process by which Canadians should be notified of a threat to the integrity of the 2019 General Election. Also, the government called on social media platforms to do more to combat disinformation ahead of the elections. The move comes with the Bill C-76, that aims to compel tech companies to be more transparent about their anti-disinformation and advertising policies.

Croatia

Bills on Hate Speech adopted in June 2018 concluded that hate speech, public incitement to violence and the spread of fake news should all be addressed in one law (only the first two are covered by the criminal code).

Denmark

In the context of the parliamentary elections on 20 May 2019, the Danish government adopted an Action plan to strengthen safeguards against influence on Danish democracy and society. Moreover, the Danish authorities bolstered their efforts to get ahead of misinformation problems by re-purposing some media literacy material from Sweden. In order to avoid falling for misinformation the government is distributing brochures with important tips.

Estonia

In 2006, Estonia was one of the first countries to create a Computer Emergency Response Team to manage security incidents. “Baltic elves” – volunteers who monitor the internet for Russian disinformation – became active in 2015 after the Maidan Square events in Ukraine. Moreover, the Baltic nations have fined or suspended several media channels displaying bias. The Baltic countries also rely on a European Union agency formed in 2015 to combat Russian disinformation campaigns directed against the EU. A agency will issue rapid alerts to the public in case of potential disinformation directed against the 2019 European Parliament elections.

France

The law aiming to prevent the spread of false information and propaganda during the election period by empowering judges to order the immediate removal of “fake news” during election campaigns. In conformity with the given law, candidates and political parties will now be able to appeal to a judge to help stop “false information” during the three months before an election. A strategic analysis on the law can be found here.

Proposed Organic Law Against Manipulation of Information, No. 772; and Proposed Bill on the Fight Against the Manipulation of Information, No. 799). The bills cover four main points:

  • The introduction of a new interlocutory proceedings enabeling judges to take proportionate and necessary measures against internet service providers and hosts to stop the spread of inaccurate or misleading allegations or imputations of a fact;
  • The granting of new powers to the French Audiovisual Council, to be able to prevent, suspend or terminate the broadcasting of television services controlled by a foreign state in the event of an infringement of the French state’s fundamental interests;
  • The introduction of an obligation upon internet hosts and service providers to allow users to bring to their attention information they believe to be fake and to alert public authorities;
  • An obligation to ensure transparency in the relationship between online platform operators and the advertisers for whom they act.

Germany

The Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks NetzDG. The law covers defamation, dissemination of propaganda material, incitement to commit serious violent offense endangering the state, public incitement to crime, incitement to hatred and the distribution of pornography Pursuant to Article 14 (3) of the E-Commerce Directive, Member States are allowed to establish “procedures governing the removal or disabling of access to information”. Moreover, the German law against hate speech on Facebook forces online platforms to remove “obviously illegal” posts within 24 hours or risk fines of up to €50 million. Aimed at social networks with more than 2 million members, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the law was passed in June 2017 and gave platforms until the end of the year to prepare for the regulation. The assessment and an update on the law will take place by the end of the year 2019. An analysis of the NetzDG law can be found here.

Ireland

According to the Bill on political bots and advertising, using a bot to create 25 or more personas on social media would be punishable by up to five years in prison or fines of up to €10,000.

Italy

Online reporting portalarrest and authority report on misinformation and fake reviews. This consists of an online portal where citizens could report misinformation to the police.

Lithuania

The Law on the Provision of Information to the Public under which the Commission functions allows the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania to block media which spreads war propaganda, instigates war or hatred, ridicule, humiliation, instigates discrimination, violence, physical violent treatment of a group of people or a person belonging on grounds of age, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, race, nationality, citizenship, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions, views or religion’. The decision about temporarily blocking a channel is made through the courts following application by the Commission.

Netherlands

In February 2019, the Dutch government launched a public awareness campaign aimed at informing people about the spread of misinformation online. The campaign, which came months ahead of the EU Parliamentary elections, was predominantly waged on social media. The aim of the campaign is to make Dutch voters more aware of the possible presence of disinformation and help people recognize it.

Poland

The ‘Cybersecurity Doctrine of the Republic of Poland’ was adopted in 2015 by the National Security Bureau as a response to the increase in hybrid threats, propaganda, disinformation, and psychological influence operation by foreign states and non-state actors. The doctrine maps out tasks for state institutions, notably security agencies and armed forces, private sector and NGOs. The threats coming from cyberspace and identified in the doctrine include cybercrime, like “cyberviolence, destructive cyberprotests and cyber demonstrations,” attacks against telecommunications systems important for national security, data and ID theft, and hijacking of private computers.

Portugal

In March 2019, ahead of the European parliamentary elections the Portuguese parliament has discussed fake news and misinformation, with the Socialist Party (PS) demanding cybersecurity measures from the government to guarantee safe elections. This was the first time Portugal’s members of parliament addressed this issue, since the fake news phenomenon sparked growing awareness during the UK’s Brexit referendum, allegedly influenced by disinformation. The initiative came from the PS, which has scheduled a two-hour debate on “Tackling misinformation to defend democracy”. Portugal has not yet produced any legislation on this issue, but there have been several initiatives on media literacy.

Russia

Has adopted a Bill and established a joint cybersecurity group with Spain focusing on misinformation in general and misinformation in the context of elections. The move came after Spanish ministers accused Russia of spreading misinformation about the Catalan referendum.

In December 2018, the Russian Duma introduced an additional package of bills that would wage fines of up to 1 million rubles ($15,000) for sharing false information online. 

Slovakia

The media regulatory framework in Slovakia is based on Article 26 of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic, which guarantees the freedom of expression and the right to information. The article prohibits censorship, specifies that ‘freedom of expression and the right to seek and disseminate information may be restricted by law only if it is regarding measures necessary in a democratic society to protect the rights and freedoms of others, national security, public order, protection of health, and morals’.

Spain

Committee recommendation and joint cybersecurity group working on misinformation and election misinformation adopted in March 2018. In the non-binding recommendation, the committee requested that the government shall cooperate with the EU in developing strategies against misinformation. The proposal was voted down by the left-wing coalition. In addition, in November 2018, Russia signed a pact with Spain to create a joint cybersecurity group. The move came after Spanish ministers accused Russia of spreading misinformation about the Catalan referendum.

United Kingdom

The British Government under the direction of the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has set up a national security communications unit with the task ‘combating disinformation by the state actors and others’. The Code of Practice for social media platforms released on 8 April 2019 calls the online providers to maintain a clear and accessible reporting process to enable users to notify the social media provider of harmful conduct; maintain efficient processes for dealing with notifications from users about harmful conduct; have clear and accessible information about reporting processes in their terms and conditions; and give clear information to the public about action they take against harmful conduct.

Online Harms White Paper adopted by the UK Government puts forward the plans for a new system of accountability and oversight for tech companies, moving beyond self-regulation. A new regulatory framework for online safety aims to make clear companies’ responsibilities to keep UK users, particularly children, safer online with the most robust action to counter illegal content and activity. This will be overseen by an independent regulator which will set clear safety standards, backed up by reporting requirements and effective enforcement powers.

USA

There is no anti-disinformation law on a federal level, nevertheless, California, has adopted a law on Media Literacy.