Albanian Government submits the anti-defamation package; risks Media Freedom, critics say

 On July 5, the Albanian government submitted a series of amendments - the so-called anti-defamation package - regarding the Audiovisual Media Act in Albania, so the Electronic Communications Act, with the aim of regulating the Albanian "epidemic" of fake news on the net.

The bill

The legislative proposal aims to create an online media register on the Internet at the Audiovisual Media Authority and regulate its contents through a politically elected administrative body of ethics, which will have the power to decide and apply administrative penalties up to € 8300 on national media in the absence of respect for the vaguely defined burden of dignity and privacy.

The same ethical council will handle the complaints, corrections and the right of the response of the injured party. Based on the legislative proposal, the so-called Ethics Commission will have the power to order corrections and complaints in online media, which will appear on the web page through a pop-up page similar to those used for online advertising or phishing.

The correction text will be drawn up by the Commission and the lack of application and respect of it may result in a penalty of € 6598.

If the online media refuses to accept the decisions of the administrative body on ethics, it can go against other sanctions by the Electronic Communications and Postal Authority, which can reach EUR 825000 and have been conceived for large telecommunications operators.

All sanctions applied by the Ethics Committee will have to be paid immediately and only after the actual payment the media can appeal to the court to review the decisions of this administrative body.

The bill does not distinguish between the online publications of the major Albanian media companies and the simple personal blogs. It is assumed that such a bill will hinder national journalists by actually increasing self-censorship, which in any case remains very pervasive and widespread.

To make a comparison, most journalists earn less on an annual basis than a single sanction for just one news item.

Rudina Hajdari: a 'putinist' law that endangers the country

Rudina Hajdari, the head of the Democratic Parliamentary Group, strongly opposed the amendments aimed at regulating online media in Albania and fighting fake news.

The deputy, in fact, stressed that this bill is not in line with international practices, considering it "putinist" and useful only to those in power.

"The new media law is not in line with best international practices, does not take into account the OSCE's recommendations and ignores civil society. A "putinist" law is only useful to those who are in power and leaves no room for the self-regulation of the press," said Hajdari.
Albanian Government submits the anti-defamation package; risks Media Freedom, critics say Albanian Government submits the anti-defamation package; risks Media Freedom, critics say Thursday, July 11, 2019 Rating: 5
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