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Argentina: controversy over the creation of an observatory to monitor hate speech and disinformation

The launch of a state observatory to monitor and “dismantle” alleged false news put the Argentine opposition on alert, which warned about the impact on freedom of the press and opinion.

Under the orbit of the Public Defender, the Observatory of disinformation and symbolic violence in media and digital platforms ("Nodio" that is a game of words in reference to "no odio", that is, "no hate") will have the task of "detection, verification, identification and dismantling of the argumentative strategies of malicious news and the identification of their broadcast operations”.

The Public Defender, Miriam Lewin, said that the observatory arises as a response to the claims of the audiences for the proliferation of "messages loaded with violence and disinformation on social networks and in the media," and she added: “In a time of isolation, in which the media and networks are our window to the world, the dissemination of messages favorable to the civic-military dictatorship, misogynist, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, intoxicates democratic debate and reinforces opinions that they promote polarization, cancel diversity and can even lead to physical violence ”.

Some figures who supported the Audiovisual Communication Services Law 11 years ago participated in the presentation of the observatory. That law was aimed at curtailing freedom of speech by giving the government more control over Clarín Group, the largest media conglomerate in the country. 

The former president of the Chamber of Deputies' Committee on Freedom of Expression, Silvana Giudici, criticized this initiative. "It is dangerous for the freedom of the press and expression for the State to assume the role of verifying the news," she told La Nación, and she defined the body as a "first step" towards the creation of a "Ministry of Truth."

"If the observatory has to do with the attack on minorities or with hate speech, for that the State has an anti-discrimination law and an organism, the Inadi, which includes the protection of all those rights," Giudici pointed out.

The deputy Fernando Iglesias (Juntos por el Cambio), was one of the toughest, publishing a photo of Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany.

For the Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities (ADEPA), meanwhile, "monitoring thought does not favor freedom of expression ."

“As ADEPA has pointed out with respect to similar projects that took place in the past decade, the establishment of this type of surveillance bodies from the State carries a certain risk that they will be used as a subtle method of discipline or retaliation for motivations unrelated to the authorities. principles they claim to promote,” and that "the very composition of the presentation panel, with almost all of its members identified with a clearly determined political sector, is an indication of this."

Source: ElPaí
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