Weaponising Fake News Laws

Autocratic Use of Disinformation Laws Against Civil Society in South and Southeast Asia




16:00 Uhr (UTC)


17:30 Uhr (UTC)

Video Talk Fake News Asia
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Video Talk Fake News Asia

  • 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.  

    Speakers:  Dr. Sangeeta Mahapatra is a Research Fellow at the GIGA. 

    Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri is a Research Fellow at the GIGA. 

    Dr. Andreas Ufen is a Senior Research Fellow at the GIGA. 

    Discussants:  Cathleen Berger is Team Lead for Upgrade Democracy and Research Director on future technologies and sustainabilty at the Bertelsmann Foundation. 

    Dr. Ruth Streicher is Senior Programme Officer Asia Division at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. 

    Moderator:  Prof. Dr. Christian von Soest is Lead Research Fellow and Head of Research Programme "Peace and Security" at the GIGA.


    GIGA Berlin Büro, and online event, Berlin



    Forschungsprojekt | 01.01.2023 - 31.08.2024

    Strengthening Civil Society Against the Weaponization of Anti-Fake News Laws: A Comparison of Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Thailand

    In an age of proliferating disinformation, governments in South and Southeast Asia have come out with anti-fake news laws. However, the “weaponization" of such laws can lead governments to control online platforms and censor critics. Our project examines the patterns and processes of the weaponization of such laws against civic actors and countermeasures by the latter. We aim for academic and policy outcomes to improve disinformation regulation while safeguarding digital rights.
    GIGA, 2023-2024


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