A new report examines successful legal responses to online harassment and abuse against female journalists in Europe.
The report, published by the OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media in cooperation with the International Press Institute (IPI), critically analyses three approaches in Finland, France and Ireland that were used to hold those responsible for online harassment to account.
In doing so, the report seeks to offer possible models for state authorities to effectively counter this phenomenon without disproportionately interfering in the right to freedom of expression. It offers a set of recommendations distilled from the three case studies, most notably that state should consider existing harassment laws and utilize the flexibility inherent in some of those laws to prosecute those responsible for harassing journalists. It also suggests legal reforms that may be necessary to capture the different and changing forms of online harassment.
The report was authored by Jonathan McCully, a legal adviser at the Digital Freedom Fund, and edited by IPI. It was commissioned as part of IPI’s Ontheline project and the OSCE’s Safety of Female Journalists Online (SOFJO) initiative.
IPI’s Ontheline project aims to expose and counter online abuse against journalists. In December, IPI’s documentary A Dark Place, which recounts the experience of female journalists such as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, premiered in Vienna. IPI will shortly launch a resource platform for newsrooms on internal measures to protect journalists from the consequences of harassment.