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Apr 16, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Look who’s concerned about fake news now

Hungary may have been the first country to realize how coronavirus-related misinformation could put people’s lives at risk, but it surely won’t be the last, as leaders around the world now start to recognize the gravity of the threat.

 

On March 30, the Hungarian Parliament passed a legislative package, the so-called Coronavirus Protection Act, which – among other important measures aimed at curbing the spread of the epidemic – included a section that imposes sanctions for disseminating false information or distortions that could undermine efforts to protect the population from the spread of the virus.

Since then, we’ve had our fair share of hysterical responses from mainstream, left-liberal media. Many have accused the Hungarian government of attempting to “silence journalists” or “limit freedom of speech.” Sixteen EU member states even issued a statement directed at Hungary, which cautioned that emergency measures “should not restrict the freedom of expression or the freedom of the press.”

Reporters Without Borders, as I wrote earlier today, took it a few, ridiculous steps further with the dramatic claim that the new law creates “a full-blown information police state.”

The concerned seem a little selective as ours is not the only government disturbed by the spread of false information and the danger it poses. Just look who else is worried.

On March 31, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen published a video statement in which she highlighted the risks posed by coronavirus-related misinformation. “Those spreading disinformation harm you. Disinformation can cost lives,” she pointed out correctly.

In a video on Tuesday, UN Secretary General António Guterres conveyed a similar message as he described coronavirus as a “global misinfo-demic“ that has created “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War.”

What’s more, senior Canadian politicians have recently begun to consider the introduction of legislation that would make it a criminal offense to knowingly spread misinformation that could harm people.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and it is about protecting the public,” said one Canadian MP, adding that “this is not a question of freedom of speech. This is a question of people who are actually actively working to spread disinformation.”

Exactly. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Oddly enough, I haven’t yet seen any expressions of “concern” about Canada’s press freedom or rule of law in any news coverage.

If it’s European Commission President von der Leyen warning that disinformation can cost lives, then that’s ok. If it’s the UN or the Trudeau Government in Canada, then fine. But if it’s the Orbán Government, it signals the rise of the police state.

Photo credit: MSN.com