TDF meets with UNESCO to express concerns for proposed online content moderation

The Democracy Fund lawyers meet with the United Nations about the online censorship plan. 

TORONTO: On November 6, 2023, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - a specialized agency of the United Nations with the aim of promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture - announced a plan to regulate social media platforms.

The Democracy Fund (TDF) immediately wrote to UNESCO expressing its grave reservations about efforts to regulate social media, especially by invoking undefined and contested terms such as "misinformation" or "disinformation."

On December 7, 2023, TDF lawyers met with representatives from UNESCO, including the chief of the section of Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. During the meeting, TDF lawyers outlined the epistemic problems implicit in private or government censorship of online content based on its purported truthfulness. UNESCO suggested that it was aware of these issues, but described its plan as one that protects freedom of speech.

TDF will be formalizing its concerns in a letter to UNESCO. UNESCO agreed to meet again with TDF lawyers to continue discussions.

Senior litigation counsel for TDF, Mark Joseph, said: "The assumption behind attempts to regulate online content is that governments are philosophically and practically able to determine truth from falsehood better than regular citizens, or at all. This assumption is unproven at best and demonstrably false at worst. And as the historical records show, governments are often the most prolific authors of falsehoods. Giving governments - or governments and big tech - the authority to determine truth and falsehood, particularly of moral or political propositions, is antithetical to the democratic project."

About The Democracy Fund:

Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.

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