In today’s fast-paced digital world, the importance of protecting fundamental rights while ensuring freedom of speech has become a paramount concern. Miguel Poiares Maduro, Professor, former Director of the School of Transnational Governance, and former Minister Deputy to the Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development in Portugal, has been at the forefront of addressing this issue. During a recent UENet event in July, he delved into the challenges posed by disinformation and the need to maintain a delicate balance between fundamental rights in the Digital Age.

Freedom of speech is one of the principles that govern democratic societies. However, it needs some limits lest we violate other rights, for example, the right to privacy, protection from verbal offence and the right to be informed. How to achieve a subtle equilibrium and ensure all fundamental rights are properly safeguarded? In the Digital Age, “information is no longer limited to a small number of sources like newspapers and television broadcasters” says Prof. Maduro. Everyone can make public statements that are then viewed by millions of people. “We work on a governance architecture… to develop a series of principles” he adds and underlines that new instruments and a cooperative process between various actors, including Big Tech, are needed in order to protect the balance between free speech and other fundamental rights.

Prof. Maduro currently serves as the Chair of the Executive Board for the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) funded by the European Commission.

EDMO brings together fact-checkers and academics, collaborating with media organizations and literacy practitioners. It promotes scientific knowledge, advances fact-checking services, supports media literacy, and assists public authorities in implementing the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.