Freedom of Expression and Misinformation Laws During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the European Court of Human Rights

  • Boldizsár Szentgáli-Tóth Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies
  • Kristóf Gál Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies
  • Kinga Kálmán Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies
  • Jurij Toplak Alma Mater Europaea ECM (Maribor); Fordham University School of Law (New York)
Keywords: freedom of expression, emergency, constitutional law, pandemic, European Court of Human Rights


This article assesses the European Court of Human Rights’ possible responses to post-COVID-19 misinformation laws. These laws are intended to protect society but may become dangerous weapons if used by governments wishing to silence opponents. We identify four categories of speech restrictions that appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic. We then present the recent misinformation laws from Council of Europe member states as well as various potential arguments when cases appear before the Court, and assess their potential weight. We also analyze the expected post-pandemic development of the European Convention on Human Rights’ Article 10 jurisprudence.


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