SALTA, Argentina – The General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) approved on Monday the Declaration of Salta on Principles of Freedom of Expression in the Digital Era, which is basically a call to protect the free flow of information regardless of the platform used.
IAPA issued a statement of 13 principles with an introduction calling journalism and the media “vital actors for freedom of expression, beyond the platforms on which they operate.”
The text considers that despite the positive impact of technologies, the threats and attacks against freedom of speech and of the press on the part of government and private sector actors have not abated, while the “abuses and misuses” of these technologies have only “magnified censorship, content blocking, surveillance, harassment, smear campaigns” against users, journalists and news media.
“Rights linked to freedom of expression and freedom of the press must be equally guaranteed in the digital as well as in the traditional environment,” says the first principle of the declaration.
“Content blocking and filtering through government controls in the digital space constitutes prior restraint according to the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights,” the declaration says.
The IAPA meeting, which convened over four days more than 1,300 media outlets from across the Americas, began last Friday.
“States must guarantee an environment free of violence and threats in the digital space for those who fulfill the function of providing information. Acts of aggression must be investigated promptly and punished appropriately,” the declaration adds.
The law must also guarantee the right to protect the identity of journalists’ confidential sources of information and respect their right to remain anonymous.
“Disinformation must not be combated with censorship mechanisms or criminal sanctions, but rather with the adoption of policies of news and digital literacy,” the text says.
“The actors of the digital ecosystem must achieve an adequate balance between freedom of expression and intellectual property rights and copyrights; as well as with respect to any benefits that may be generated in that ecosystem,” it adds.
The declaration also notes that “technological intermediaries” must commit to respecting and promoting freedom of expression and “must not yield to pressures from governments and other powerful groups.”
“We firmly reiterate that the fight for freedom of expression and freedom of the press is essential for democracy and the common good,” the IAPA declaration ends by saying.