Weaponising Fake News Laws, GIGA Berlin Büro, and online event, Berlin
Organisation: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
PD Dr. Andreas Ufen (Berater:in)
This talk presents the latest findings from our research on governments’ use of fake news laws as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) tactic. This trend has accompanied autocratisation in places such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. In these countries, governments have ridden the global wave of countering disinformation, exploiting existing information laws or passing new ones to censor and criminalise civil society while seeking to control the flow of information digitally. Together with other draconian laws and tools of digital repression such as surveillance and online smear campaigns, fake news laws increase the costs of public participation that could help keep the executive in check. Facing multiple charges, dissidents and journalists are compelled to fight endless court cases, depleting their energy and limited financial resources as well as being a time sink, further to enduring the detrimental psychological effects of this misuse of legal powers. This talk unpacks these mechanisms and proposes counter-responses to weaponising fake news laws.