The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 72nd annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 25, 2023 in Vienna, Austria, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling on governments to ensure AI is developed and deployed with strong human rights safeguards that protect media freedom and enable independent, pluralistic information ecosystems. 

AI is playing an increasingly powerful role in shaping our information environments — and in influencing what types of news and content the public consumes and shares. For journalism, these technologies have potential to help media organizations become more resilient and sustainable, and to bring advancements in newsgathering and storytelling that can engage audiences in new ways. 

However AI-based technologies also have an enormous potential to harm our information ecosystems and threaten the fundamental human rights on which robust, independent media systems, and free societies, depend. In absence of strong human rights governance and oversight, these technologies are being exploited by malicious actors to spread toxic disinformation and other types of harmful speech that pollutes our information ecosystems and sows distrust in the media and other democratic institutions. These technologies can also be used to surveil and track journalists and civil society. 

We emphasize that under international law states have a positive obligation to protect the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information, and privacy — the full exercise of which are necessary in order for journalists to carry out their work freely, safely, and independently. Moreover, according to the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, states must not only ensure that their own policies and practices do not undermine or threaten the exercise of these fundamental rights, but they must also ensure that businesses respect and protect these rights. 

Governments must therefore act urgently to enact strong global human rights-based guardrails for the development and deployment of AI systems that ensure these technologies support and enable media freedom and the development of pluralistic news and information environments. 

We welcome that states are recognizing the urgency of creating common human-rights based standards for AI, including in regional instruments such as the forthcoming  EU AI ACT, as well as the OSCE Policy Manual on Artificial Intelligence and Freedom of Expression, and recommendations by the Council of Europe’s Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. It is imperative that such standards in all parts of the world be developed in close consultation with a diverse spectrum of civil society stakeholders that includes journalists and other members of the media industry.