Against the backdrop of the still developing Covid-19 epidemic, the Forum on Information and Democracy announces the creation of its inaugural working group. The Forum will ask experts, academics and jurists all over the world to define a policy framework (set of recommendations) to respond to “ the infodemic and the information chaos”. The ambition is to find a way for systemic change.

The steering committee, whose composition will be announced on 6 July, will be co-chaired by Maria Ressa and Marietje Schaake. CEO of the investigation website Rappler in the Philippines, Maria Ressa was a Time magazine person of the year in 2018. She is a member of the Commission on Information and Democracy. A former member of the European Parliament (2009 – 2019), Marietje Schaake is currently the international policy director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. 

The group, which will be coordinated by the secretariat of the Forum, will be asked to make recommendations for bringing online content moderation into compliance with international standards, promoting the reliability of information, regulating private messaging services that exploit the possibilities of the public space, and making digital platforms transparent about their business models and algorithmic choices. A call for contributions will be published mid-July.

With the creation of this working group, we aim to promote a structural response to the phenomena of rumours and disinformation,” said Christophe Deloire, chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy. “For anyone still doubting, the Covid-19 pandemic has confirmed the urgency of the need for action. In the face of such dangerous phenomena, we need systemic change, not partial measures.

When lies laced with anger and hate spread faster than facts, it poisons our information ecosystem and kills democracy. Without facts, there’s no integrity of markets or elections! I look forward to working with experts across the world in different fields to find solutions in our global battle for truth”, Maria Ressa said.

Navigating the information landscape where commercially driven curation, mis- and disinformation as well as coordinated inauthentic behavior are rampant, is no easy task for many internet users”, Marietje Schaake said. “Journalism is key to uncover the power and politics of information governance. I am honored to work with a diverse group of experts to make free speech and democratic debate more resilient.

About the Forum on Information and Democracy

The Forum on Information and Democracy’s mission is to assist with the regulation and self-regulation of the online information and communication domain and to implement the goals of the International Partnership for Information and Democracy that was launched during the UN General Assembly in September 2019 and has now been signed by 37 countries.

The Forum was created in November 2019 by 11 non-governmental organizations, research centres and think tanks from all continents: Centre for International Governance Innovation (Canada), CIVICUS (South Africa), Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan), Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), Human Rights Center of UC Berkeley School of Law (United States), Institute for Strategic Dialogue (United Kingdom), OBSERVACOM (Uruguay), Open Government Partnership (United States), Peace Research Institute Oslo (Norway), Reporters Without Borders/RSF (France) and Research ICT Africa (South Africa).