European leaders to discuss AI’s impact on media freedom

European ministers responsible for media are set to meet to discuss potential ways to address the challenges to freedom of expression posed by AI.

The conference aims to secure the political engagement of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe (CoE) to several priority actions and to map the future work of the organisation regarding technology and media.

The CoE said AI has created new opportunities to exercise freedom of expression and access information but is also generating risks in terms of targeted persuasion and manipulation.

Search engines and social media platforms have caused “a structural shift” in the information environment putting the business model of traditional media at risk and enabling the spread of disinformation according to the CoE.

The international organisation also highlighted the increasing obstacles journalists face when it comes to performing their work safely and how they are often the target of physical attacks and intimidation.

To address these challenges, the ministers are expected to decide on a political declaration and four resolutions on issues such as the impact of AI products and processes on freedom of expression.

The meeting will also cover the possibility of introducing regulation to ensure more transparency in the dissemination of news to combat disinformation – notably during electoral periods.

The council will also discuss measures to improve the safety of journalists, for example, through dedicated national action plans for the protection of journalists and other media actors, alongside ways to safeguard freedom of expression in member states during times of crisis.

Speakers at the event are set to include: president of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades, the Council of Europe’s secretary general Marija Pejčinović, foreign affairs minister of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatović, and European Commission vice-president Věra Jourová.

Technology’s influence on media has been widely criticised worldwide; US senator Marsha Blackburn told the House of Lords in May that tech giants like Facebook and Twitter are “glorified ad agencies” that are strongly incentivised towards censorship.

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