This week in Strasbourg the European Parliament strongly condemned states that seek to undermine European democracy through disinformation campaigns and fake news in a resolution adopted overwhelmingly in plenary.
Commenting on the Resolution, President Tajani stated: “Voter participation is the lifeblood of democracy. To express their right to vote, citizens must have complete and accurate information. Fake news can affect their right to actively participate in the electoral process. As politicians our duty is to guarantee the freedom of choice of citizens.”
“During my recent visit in the US, American intelligence confirmed the risk of external action to influence the outcome of the EU elections. With only seventy-five days left before the European election, our democracy is under attack.”
Russia’s subversive campaigns are the principal source of disinformation in Europe and MEPs strongly condemned foreign electoral interference. Member states were invited to amend legislation to proactively counteract threats stemming from disinformation, cyberattacks, cyber-crimes and violation of freedom of expression when voting.
Analysing the EU’s efforts to counteract hostile propaganda by third parties, MEPs called upon member states to consider developing a robust legal framework at both EU and international level to tackle hybrid threats. Parliament also urged the EU to expand its East StratCom Task Force, to fully address Russia’s hostile propaganda.
Parliamentarians called for social media companies, messenger services and search engine providers to be regulated. Companies failing to speedily remove systemic fake news should be held to account. Furthermore, authorities should be able to identify and locate authors and sponsors of submitted political content.
The European Parliament also adopted legislation to protect the upcoming elections from data misuse, following the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal.