IBA Annual Conference Sydney 2017

8 Oct - 13 Oct 2017

Room C2.5, Convention Centre, Level 2

Session information

Fake news/press freedom in Asia

Tuesday 10 October (1430 - 1730)

Room C2.5, Convention Centre, Level 2


Media Law Committee (Lead)
IBA's Human Rights Institute


This session will be divided into two panels, each addressing a current issue of vital concern. The first panel will discuss the phenomenon of 'fake news' and whether government efforts to staunch the flow of fake news threaten freedom of expression. The second panel will focus on the challenges faced by journalists and news organisations in Asia, ranging from criminal libel laws to protection of sources to social media shut downs. Panel 1: fake news and alternative facts - which is worse, disease or cure? In the US, Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating the role played by Russian spy agencies in creating fabricated news stories about candidate Clinton during the 2016 US presidential campaign - false stories believed by many to have affected the election results. In France, then-presidential candidate (now French President) Emmanuel Macron was the victim of social media stories falsely charging that he maintained a secret offshore bank account. In Germany, Angela Merkel’s government has approved a draft law that, if passed, will compel large social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to rapidly remove false news accounts from their platforms or face stiff fines of up to €50m. The US President frequently tweets that mainstream news stories critical of him and his administration are nothing more than 'fake news'. So what exactly is fake news? How should it be defined? Is it a pressing social problem that warrants government intervention? Is self-regulation instead the answer? Where do freedom of expression and press freedom fit into the equation? We will explore these and other thorny questions surrounding fake news with a panel of experts who represent the key stakeholders in this all-important debate, including social media representatives, free expression advocates and government regulators. Please join us for what promises to be a timely, entertaining and thought-provoking panel discussion. Panel 2: please don't kill the messenger - fighting for press freedom in Asia This panel will focus on the significant freedom of expression challenges that journalists, news organisations and social media companies face in Southeast Asia, China and other parts of Asia. Our panellists will discuss a broad range of important topics, ranging from the persecution of journalists, impunity and criminal libel laws, to the protection of sources and freedom of information to government control/shut downs of social media. The overarching focus will be on the role that laws can play in building – or undermining – free expression cultures in the region. Panellists will include lawyers and journalists with expertise in the various freedoms of expression, access to information and social media issues that are prevalent in Asia.

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Robert Balin Davis Wright Tremaine, New York, New York, USA; Senior Vice Chair, Media Law Committee
Peter Bartlett MinterEllison, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; LPD Secretary-Treasurer / IBA Treasurer, IBA Officers
Roxana Kahale Kahale Abogados, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chair, Media Law Committee
Mark Stephens CBE Howard Kennedy LLP, London, England; LPD Representative, IBA's Human Rights Institute


Steven Crown Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington, USA; Website Officer, Media Law Committee
Yakare-Oule Jansen Reventlow null, Copenhagen, Denmark
Monica Kaminska Oxford University, Oxford, England
Baroness Helena Kennedy KC IBA Human Rights Institute, London, England; Co-Chair, IBA's Human Rights Institute
Margaret Simons Melbourne University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Amos Toh University of California, Irvine, California, USA