2019 EU Elections Threatened by Fake News, Cyberattacks, European Commissioner Warns

2019 EU Elections Threatened by Fake News, Cyberattacks, European Commissioner Warns

The European Commission, the executive of the European Union, has warned that the 2019 elections for the European Parliament will likely come under threat through the spread of fake news and through cyberattacks.

The threat of meddling in next year’s European Elections should be taken seriously by all EU member states, according to European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King.

King referred in particular to worries that social media would be used to spread foreign influence in the EU, a scenario similar to the Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections or the 2016 referendum in the Netherlands on the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine.

“All member states must take seriously the threats to the democratic process and institutions posed by cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, and should have national plans to prevent them,” the EU Security Union Commissioner told Germany’s Funke media group, as cited by DW.

“We must prevent state and non-state actors from undermining our democratic system and using this against us,” King added.

He described the manipulation tactics used by hackers trying to influence an election through online campaigns, especially by spreading fake news through social media, as subtle and very harmful.

“We want to see real transparency, traceability and accountability online,” King said, insisting that online platforms such as Facebook and YouTube should also take responsibility.

He urged the social media giants to boost their mechanisms for detecting and removing fake accounts spreading misinformation.

After the shock surrounding the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential vote, which has cast doubt over Donald Trump’s election, there have been growing concerns that the 2019 EU elections will be especially vulnerable to similar attacks as they will be taking place simultaneously in 27 countries.

The European Commission hopes that in September 2018 it will be able to adopt a Code of Conduct for tackling online disinformation which is being developed by the EU with the support of online platforms, social networks, and advertising agencies.

The Code was originally supposed to be adopted in July but the EU Security Union Commissioner said that the first draft was unsatisfactory.

The Code is supposed 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.

(Banner image: European Commission)

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