If Chapultepec, 24 years ago, affirmed that the basis of freedom of expression and of the press are the vital axis of different democracies of Latin America, constituting a kind of gospel all about independent journalism, the argentinian Declaration of Salta about the new digital ecosystem of information has proved to be the missing battering ram to shield that freedom.
In effect, the Digital Declaration assumed as a charter of principles of the Inter-American Press Association, complementary to the Declaration of Chapultepec of 1994, defines the regulatory frameworks in which quality journalism should be exercised within the digital sphere, that is, without borders, threats or violence.
While acknowledging that the abuses and misuses of digital technologies have served as a breeding ground for countless restrictive and criminalizing legislative models, such as censorship, blockage of content, heavy surveillance, harassment and discredit campaigns, it is indeed necessary to fight so that this space remains open, neutral and accessible to everyone.
So the applicable exercise of freedom of expression on the press shouldn’t be at the expense of whimsical interpretations that ultimately affect the inalienable right of the human person to receive and disseminate ideas, but should protect and promote the free flow of information, regardless of the platform on which it originates.
Since one of the motivations that certain governments have had to impose leadership and censor content of the media has been to “contain the so-called fake news”, the tendency towards this previous type of censorship keeps extending and that’s why the Declaration of Salta sees, in these decisions, a serious threat to the freedom of expression.
“Disinformation should not be fought with mechanisms of censorship or criminal sanctions but with the adoption of self-regulation measures and educational policies about the news and the digital world. Technological intermediaries must adopt measures to prevent harassment, incitement to violence and deliberate dissemination of misinformation”, says the Salta Declaration.
The SIP declares that any restrictions and consequent sanctions that affect the right to broadcast, share or disseminate information and ideas on the Internet, must be established by law, in accordance with the conditions of the American Convention about Human Rights.
In short, what the Salta Declaration proposes is that the rights linked to the freedom of expression and press must be guaranteed equally in the digital and traditional environment.
And this is a reasonable position if one takes into account that there’s already a strong approach between the printed and digital platforms, so that if anti-democratic or intolerant governments perform acts against this online freedom of information, they would be weakening the broad field of rights that the independent press, sheltered by Chapultepec, has managed to maintain by force of martyrdom, threats and pressures for 25 years.
This is how Salta “jumped in” to face the future of the social communications under a digital ecosystem that empowers citizens with their inalienable rights to live in a democratic culture, sharing their ideas, information and opinions in a multi-directional, interactive, instantaneous and plural environment, with wider access to different information sources.
– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.