Hogan Lovells and PeaceTech Lab collaborate to fight online hate

Hogan Lovells and PeaceTech Lab collaborate to fight online hate

Press releases | 20 June 2022

London and Washington, D.C., 20 June 2022 – To mark the International Day for Countering Hate Speech on 18 June, Hogan Lovells has created an interactive map of the laws and regulations around the world governing online hate as part of its three-year partnership with the global non-profit organisation, PeaceTech Lab (PTL). The map can be found here.

PTL is a global non-profit organization created to use the power of technology, data and media to save lives and promote peace around the world. It has worked extensively on countering hate speech and other forms of mis/disinformation. To this end PTL asked Hogan Lovells, as part of their formal global partnership, to develop answers to a series of questions regarding the laws and regulations around the world governing online hate. Hogan Lovells analysed the questions in more than 20 jurisdictions, with this website as the final result containing the Hogan Lovells analysis.

The Internet, and social media particularly, allows for enormous freedom of expression. In ways not imaginable in the pre-Internet era, people are free to express themselves in writing, with images and photography, and through recorded sound and video. Cheap technology and ubiquitous broadband access allow users to broadcast their output to millions of people around the world. Internet-users are able to network with like-minded people and communities.

At the same time that the Internet has become essential to communication, education and entertainment, it has become a vehicle for the distribution of hate. The Internet serves as a meeting place for those seeking to conspire against vulnerable communities. Some people misuse their ability to express themselves by attacking minorities and inciting violence in online posts, memes, music and video. They use the Internet to find and conspire with fellow haters. Thus, the tension between freedom of expression and the regulation of hate presents itself over and over again in the Internet era.

Describing why PTL commissioned the map, CEO Sheldon Himelfarb noted, “The cornerstone of Sustainable Development Goal 16, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ is the Rule of Law. Knowing what your rights are, and how to exercise those rights, strengthens the fight against power being used arbitrarily. The Rule of Law is central to this interactive map.”

Steven M. Freeman, Vice President, Civil Rights, of the Anti-Defamation League, commented: “Understanding the legal tools available to combat hate speech is essential in the fight against the many forms of online and offline hate. The Hogan Lovells/Peace Tech Lab digest of major laws available in an interactive map-based tool will be incredibly useful to ADL and help us understand the parameters of the law in numerous jurisdictions. We welcome the effort and appreciate the work.”

The Hogan Lovells team was led by Christelle Coslin (partner), Christopher Wolf (senior counsel emeritus), Yasmin Waljee OBE (partner), Rhian Lewis (senior associate) and Stefanie Chan (Responsible Business senior advisor – EMEA and APAC). They were assisted by more than 80 Hogan Lovells volunteers who worked on the interactive map. Additional volunteer hours were provided by Citibank’s Nigel Kemp, Sinead McKenna and Lisa Maughan, who worked on the Republic of Ireland research.