At least 800 people have died globally as a direct consequence of misinformation about COVID-19. In Hungary, at the same time, the new Enabling Act has empowered the government to detain and jail anyone for up to 5 years for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19. These two cases represent the extreme consequences of different approaches adopted by governments to tackle misinformation. On the one hand, a liberal approach threatening the right to life; on the other, a rigorous regime, threatening freedom of expression. What is the best approach? As it is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Whilst strict policing to ensure the truthfulness of the information may be prima facie desirable, freedom of expression is a defining element of all democratic societies. Governments should strive to balance the preservation of human rights and civil liberties, and the increasingly pressing necessity to contain misinformation. The latter can only be successfully achieved via a joint venture with tech companies, in an effort to deploy emerging technologies as a means to combat fake news. Therefore, this publication will be dedicated to evaluating whether States can indeed rely on tech companies to tackle misinformation and still comply with their fundamental rights obligations.
Keywords: eGovernance; Digital Literacy; Misinformation; Disinformation; Human Rights; Fundamental Rights; Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Information; Social Media; Fact Checking; Artificial Intelligence.