The May 2019 European elections could be targeted by “Fake News”, cyber attacks, and other forms of voter manipulation targeted campaigns on the Internet, according to EU Security Commissioner Julian King, who has urged Member States, Internet platforms and political parties to put in place measures to prevent such attacks.
“All Member States must take the threat to democratic processes and institutions by cyberattacks and disinformation seriously and put forward national prevention plans,” King told the journalists in Brussels. The Commission will now intensify its efforts together with the EU states: “We must prevent state and non-state actors from undermining our democratic systems and using them as a weapon against us.”
One of the “most urgent measures” for the Commission is a code of conduct which the platforms themselves should decide on. It is intended to create greater transparency in sponsored content with the obligation to clearly identify and specify the financier. “Users should know who made the content, who can benefit from it, and why it is being shown to them,” King said.
The platforms are urged to increase their efforts to identify and delete fake accounts and set clear rules for bots so that these automated services can not pose as human users online. “We want to make it easier for users to evaluate the trustworthiness of content while reducing the visibility of disinformation.”
The Commission estimates that one-third of the money spent on election campaigns is already spent on social media. But the rules are lax. For example, in the 2016 US election campaign, Facebook was abused for political ads by “non-authentic” accounts related to Russia.
King referred to the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, which got access to profile information from millions of Facebook users who were then targeted by ads during the US election campaign.
According to the Commission’s original plan, the Code of Conduct should be have been completed by July. King said a first draft submitted by Internet platforms last month was not satisfactory – although it represents a major step forward. Further work was needed to implement the Code by September.