Algorithms in the news industry: obligations of states to ensure media freedom and information rights of citizens

Online media increasingly use algorithms to produce and distribute news. Next to that, we see new players in the news industry, e.g. social media. These new technologies and participants challenge the democratic role of the media as watchdog and forum for public debate. Algorithms also change the relationship between media and audiences. News media try to give people what they want, thereby risking that citizens are less informed about public affairs. In Europe, Art 10 ECHR protects freedom of expression and information, including media freedom. Art 10 has been developed by the European Court of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe has further translated these principles into media policy guidance and obligations for States to ensure a favorable environment for free speech. This paper analyses what (positive) obligations European states have to ensure a diverse media market that delivers the news people need to fulfil their role as informed citizen in the face of algorithms.