Disinfo News and Updates

  • RT and DW Bans. The German Commission for Authorization and Supervision ZAK banned all distribution of RT (formerly Russia Today)’s German language channel. RT urged platforms not to be “intimidated” by the regulator’s demands. The Russian government forced the closure of Deutsche Welle’s Moscow office.
  • NATO Data Request. NATO researchers are contesting the scope of Article 31 of the Digital Services Act, requesting access to platform data.
  • CrowdTangle Troubles. Meta paused new users from joining its platform transparency and analytical tool CrowdTangle due to “staffing constraints”.

EU Policy Monitor 

  • DSA Trilogues. The first interinstitutional negotiations between the Council, Parliament and Commission took place on January 31st and will continue over the next months, alongside parallel negotiations on the Digital Markets Act. The Parliament will focus on consumer protection issues like dark patterns, on SME’s, new measures on targeted ads, and obligations for the largest platforms. The definition of Very Large Online Platforms may be opened. The second trilogue is scheduled on February 15.
  • Maria Ressa in INGE Committee. Last week Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa testified before the EP Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation. When asked about the DSA media exemption by MEP Alexandra Geese, she replied that “creating any loopholes or special carve outs for media” would force lawmakers into the complicated position of defining media. “This was much easier a decade ago when it was clearer. Today it isn’t. What’s an influencer?” she pointed out, adding that some political candidates now go to influencers rather than traditional journalists. She encouraged lawmakers rather to “look at the start of the failures and then strip away the cascading failures that are a result of that.” Yesterday the committee discussed the Commission’s revamped code of practice on disinformation.
  • Media Freedom Act. Yesterday in Paris Commissioner Věra Jourová gave further insights into the forthcoming Media Freedom Act, which aims to strengthen European media regulators, in part to help countries “deal more efficiently and consistently with disinformation and foreign propaganda channels.”
  • SLAPPS. Last Tuesday the Coalition against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), a group of NGOs and activists, presented a petition with 166,000 signatures to Commission Jourová, calling out the rise in frivolous lawsuits that governments and businesses are using to silence critics. 
  • DNS Abuse. The European Commission has published a comprehensive study on the scope of malicious activity towards/involving the Domain Name System (‘DNS Abuse’) and the implications for security and trust online.

The Latest from the EU DisinfoLab

We’re thrilled to be joined by two new colleagues here at the EU DisinfoLab. Laetitia Devant is joining as Communications and Events Manager and Rita Jonusaite as Advocacy Coordinator. They’re reinforcing our team at an exciting time here in Brussels. Expect to hear more from them in the coming months 🙂

The European Digital Media Observatory for Belgium and Luxembourg, EDMO BELUX, is hosting its first press conference. We are proud to be a member of this hub for research on digital media and disinformation in Belgium and Luxembourg. Join us here on February 15th!

Long Reads, Slow-Takes, and Explainers

  • Reuters’ Institute Journalism Fellow Klaus Knittelfelder examines the rise of partisan outlets in Austria’s public information sphere.
  • Katherine Pennacchio reflects in the Latam Journalism Review (LJR) on a roundtable organised by fact-checkers Ecuador Verifica on the importance of a gender approach in fact-checking. 
  • EU DisinfoLab’s own Maria Giovanna Sessa has written an explainer on gendered disinformation for the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI) 

Events and Announcements

  • 23 February. The European Audiovisual Observatory is holding a conference on The Media Freedom Act and Public Service Media. Register here.
  • 7 – 11 March. MisinfoCon 2022 @ Mozfest, the online global misinformation summit organized by Hacks/Hackers. Register here.
  • 6 – 7 June. The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) will host their 360/Open Summit 2022 in Brussels. More here.
  • The European Media and Information Fund (EMIF) has four open tenders in the area of mis/disinformation and information disorder, with a total of €4 800 000. More here.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is conducting an expert consultation on applying the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to tech companies, as requested by the Human Rights Council. There is an opportunity to provide written input on the four themes of the consultation and to sign up for the virtual sessions here.