Malta protesters oppose draft bill that could limit freedom of speech
Malta protesters oppose draft bill that could limit freedom of speech

[JURIST] A draft bill [text, PDF, in Maltese] proposed by the Maltese government [official website] that aims to regulate online news could inhibit freedom of speech, argued protesters Sunday. At the protest, which was organized by the opposition party, opposition leader Simon Busuttil said [EU Observer report] that the bill would be “the beginning of the end of freedom of expression on the internet.” The bill would update Malta’s defamation and libel laws requiring citizens to provide their name, age, home address and valid government identification to the nearest Maltese government authority before expressing political views online. In an editorial [Independent op-ed], a Maltese newspaper expressed concern about the number of people the bill would impact and commented that “many people out there will be forced to think twice before commenting on current affairs of any sort.”

Malta currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU until mid-2017 and will hold elections next year. Reporters without Borders [advocacy website] ranked Malta forty-sixth on its 2016 World Press Freedom Index [ranking]. The country also received a 96 percent score in the Freedom House [advocacy website] ranking and the press freedom status label “free.”