Ambassador Chris Lu
Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
March 29, 2023
Thank you to DGC for hosting this important briefing. I will be very brief.
The United States, as the Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition, strongly supports the value that digital platforms have in bettering people’s lives, but also understands fully the dangers that they pose. So, in that context, let me just offer a couple of brief suggestions.
Number one, as important, or perhaps almost as important as disinformation, is how governments around the world are disrupting people’s access to digital platforms. That has the ability to stifle dissent, to restrict the ability of journalists to report on government overreach and human rights violations, and to restrict freedom of expression. So, I’d certainly be interested in hearing how that fits into this.
Secondly, as you engage in this process, I’ve heard about your – the way that you’ll engage with other parties, and I applaud the desire to talk to the private sector, and particularly the digital platforms. There is obviously reason to be skeptical, but I think it’s important to hear their perspective about what they’ve done to date, as well as some of the challenges that they face. So, I appreciate your efforts on that.
Also, in the way of process, we would urge you, as you’ve already said, you would do, to engage with other UN entities that are operating the space. You’ve talked about a mapping exercise; I think that’s important to minimize any duplication in the process.
And then finally, I think, even as we fight disinformation, I think it’s – we just want to encourage you, DGC’s efforts to continue to put out more information. And in some ways, that’s one of the ways you fight disinformation is by flooding the zone with more information. And we’ve had this conversation before about how the UN is such a trusted source of information, particularly when it comes to things like climate change. And particularly when we’re talking about countries that don’t necessarily have a free press, a lot of what they hear about global affairs – the only source, frankly, may be the UN.
So we need to fight disinformation, but we will also need to lift up more accurate information, in particular at the UN. So, thank you for those efforts.