It is curious that without there being a legislative development that guarantees that citizens can receive truthful information, as established in article 20 of the Constitution, the Government has considered the fight against disinformation, not as a constitutional citizen guarantee, but as a matter of national security with a general at the helm.
And it is that the Government has approved the creation of a Forum against Disinformation chaired by the director of National Security, General Miguel Ángel Ballesteros. It will depend on the Ministry of the Presidency -it was approved in the Council of Ministers on May 31- and its composition and operation were published in the BOE of June 15.
The germ of this forum is a Royal Decree dated December 28, in which the National Security Strategy was approved, in which disinformation campaigns are expressly considered as a threat and risk to national security. Once again, disinformation is not considered as a democratic deficit that prevents citizens from having the necessary knowledge of reality to operate as free individuals and trained in democracy.
It seems that an uninformed citizenry only worries if it affects security, not the citizen’s inability to know what is happening.
The Forum, according to the approved norm, “will be made up of six people representing the General State Administration, public employees and employees with level 28 or higher, and ten people representing civil society organizations from the academic field, the private sector and associations and/or non-profit entities”. It will also be able to count on “with the participation of independent experts and citizens”.
The function of this forum is not well developed, but it does appear in one of its points that “it will carry out the functions of promoting and preparing studies and initiatives that allow, directly or indirectly, to increase knowledge and awareness of society about the risks and threats generated by disinformation campaigns likely to compromise National Security, as well as the efforts of the actors and organizations involved in its safeguarding and the co-responsibility of all in measures of anticipation, prevention, analysis, reaction, resistance and recovery with respect to such risks and threats.
And it is at that point where, According to Europa Press, the Government explained that, in the fight against ‘fake news’, it could request the collaboration of the media whose contribution is considered “timely and relevant” to combat them, for example, with actions such as “the identification and non-contribution to its dissemination. In other words, the Government plans to ask the media not to spread the information that the Government considers “timely and relevant” to combat.
Precisely nine years ago, the government of Ecuador, under the presidency of Rafael Correa, approved a Communication Law that was described by the opposition and by our media as a “gag law”, because it included the creation of a Superintendence of Information and Communication, a non-governmental figure, elected by a Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control. This superintendence was the body before which any citizen or organization could file a complaint if they considered that a media outlet was breaching the code of ethics that, also the law itself, required them to approve.
Interestingly, those who considered this a “gag law” have said nothing about a military man at the forefront of the Spanish government’s vigilance for truthful information.