Media Forward: Freedom House Seeks Proposals for Policy Brief Series

Freedom House seeks proposals from both rising and experienced independent researchers, scholars, and affiliated research analysts, especially those based in Moldova, the Eastern Partnership region, and the European Union, for forward-looking briefs on the following theme:

Designing Effective Online Regulation for Moldova: Lessons and Best Practices From Abroad

The Internet plays an increasingly important role in Moldova’s media landscape. Recent studies have found that nearly half of Moldovans now use the Internet daily, and higher proportions among younger generations make it a near certainty that Internet media will continue to rise in importance in the future. This means that citizens’ news consumption will increasingly come from sources which are substantially less regulated than traditional, currently-dominant formats – Moldovan legislation still lacks so much as a clear definition for ‘online media.’ Policymakers, increasingly concerned about the threats posed by disinformation and other hybrid threats, have begun to take action to increase government oversight of online spaces; however, poor implementation means that many of the measures threaten to compromise freedom of expression online. For example, last March, the Security and Intelligence Service unilaterally cracked down on news sites it claimed were spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic,  and in August, the Ministry of Justice announced it was working on a draft law which would criminalize spreading disinformation online.

Increased use of the Internet, concerns about dis- and misinformation, and the risk of government overreaction are global trends, and countries across the world are facing the same sort of dilemma as Moldova in designing legal frameworks governing the Internet. Unfortunately, in most places, governments have chosen overregulation; last year saw an accelerating decline in Internet freedom across the world, even as the COVID-19 pandemic underlined the crucial role the Internet plays in the global media environment. Going forward, it is critical that countries like Moldova, where the form of internet regulation is still undecided, be able to emulate governments which have successfully regulated the online sphere while preserving freedom of expression.

This brief would identify examples of effective online regulation from countries and organizations in Moldova’s region and analyze their experiences to draw out key lessons and best practices. It should draw explicitly on the threats and trends discussed in Freedom House’s past Media Forward brief on online regulation. Competitive proposals should provide actionable recommendations for Moldova’s government to implement these best practices in the Moldovan context.

Procedures:

Please submit concept proposals to eurasia@freedomhouse.org by March 1, 2021, with “Moldova Policy Briefs” in the subject line. The concept proposal should consist of an abstract of no more than 200 words, an outline of the argument and recommendations to be presented, and a CV of the principal researcher or researchers. Organizations may submit proposals for more than one brief. The priority will be given to concept proposals submitted in English.

Contracted researchers will be asked to deliver a draft of 2500-3000 words. The brief will be published by Freedom House, with the byline and affiliation of the scholar or researcher. An honorarium of $250 per brief is provided.

The “Media Forward” policy brief series is part of the USAID and UK funded project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) and is implemented by Freedom House, Internews and the Independent Journalism Center of Moldova.


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