Nowadays, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and the massive digitisation have a more significant impact on our daily lives than ever before. Never before have we had such easy and rapid access to so many sources of information, but without being sure of their authenticity. And never before, in an era plagued by a global health emergency, can quality information save people's lives and, on the contrary, misinformation do great harm.

In order to tackle the most pressing challenges to freedom of expression, including the decline in the safety of journalists and the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of massive digitalisation in the media and information environments on freedom of expression, European Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society agreed to carry out a number of priority actions. At the conclusionof a Council of Europe Ministerial Conference, a Final Declaration and four resolutions were adopted, covering areas where the Organisation will focus its efforts to protect freedom of expression in the next years: digital technologies, safety of journalists, the changing media and information environment, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the Cypriot government, the ministerial conference brought together over 40 ministers and State secretaries, and 350 participants from national governments, international organisations, civil society, media and academia.

All actors engaged in the design, development and deployment of digital technologies and AI tools for the creation, moderation and distribution of online content to develop regulation - including through legally binding standards where appropriate – were involved in the conference. The ministers pledged to create the necessary regulatory conditions for ensuring that automated processes for creating and disseminating news, including through tools such as Natural Language Processing, robo-journalism and algorithmically prepared newsfeeds, be used in full respect of the right to freedom of expression. They also called on all actors to pay more attention to marginalised groups structurally excluded from receiving news and at risk of receiving a less diverse information offer.

Never before have we had access to so much information whilst being so unsure of its authenticity

Recalling that violence against journalists and other media actors constitutes an attack on democracy, the ministers pledged to make this problem a political priority and expressed serious concern about the prevailing impunity of such attacks. They invited the Council of Europe to carry out a comprehensive campaign at European level to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists, in order to enable them to pursue their mission to inform.

Giuseppe Zaffuto, spokesperson for the Council of Europe in Italy

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