The COVID-19 crisis has raised a serious issue of privacy and freedom of individual due to a number of government-imposed restrictions and controlling measures aimed at the virus non-dissemination. A special challenge is the situation in authoritarian regimes which already now show the proneness to enhanced authoritarianism, in particular, through continuation of the policy of rigid control over citizens even in the post-COVID time. What response could the global community now give and are there no threats of the intensification of such trends in our society? This issue has been discussed during the panel discussion “The Right to Freedom of Speech in the Epoch of Populism” at the Xth Western Ukrainian Legal Forum.
The moderator of the discussion Dmytro Sherenhovskyi, Program Director of the Dnistrianskyi Centre, has shared its outcomes:
“The COVID-19 crisis has raised a number of important issues related to privacy and freedom of individual due to government-imposed restrictions and controlling measures. A special challenge is the situation in authoritarian and populist regimes which already now demonstrate proneness to the intensification of what the famous Center for Strategic and International Studies has called “digital authoritarianism".
In Ukraine the situation is even more complex due to the hybrid war with Russia, and the issue of information control has been on the agenda for already quite a time.
The panel discussion that united experts on public governance in the field of information, media experts, and media lawyers has raised the issue of readiness of Ukraine to overcoming of this crisis and striking the balance between national security and individual freedom of speech. The panellists have pointed out limitations in the national system of freedom of speech regulation, that was developed ad hoc in the crisis conditions. On the other hand, the culture of self-regulation of the media field still requires considerable time and interaction.
Development of a long-term strategy for the regulation of this social field should primarily be based on the dialogue between all the stakeholders: the authorities, media business, journalists, and communicators, as well as civil society organizations".
The following people have participated in the discussion:
· Nataliya Haletska, Ph.D (Law), senior lecturer of the School of Law of the UCU;
· Maksym Dvorovyi, Lawyer of the Digital Security Laboratory;
· Yuriy Opoka, Executive Director of NGO “Lviv Mediaforum”;
· Taras Shevchenko, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.
A special address was delivered by Patrick Penninckx, the Head of the Information Society Department of the Council of Europe (the text and the video of the address are available at the link).
The Dnistrianskyi Centre acted a partner of the discussion “The Right to Freedom of Speech in the Epoch of Populism”.