The European Union’s executive has started to compile guidelines for Big Tech platforms to prevent disinformation, hate speech and counterfeits from disrupting the process of democratic elections.
More than a third of the world’s population will go to the polls this year at a time when the power and influence of tech giants is under growing scrutiny.
“These are the first-ever guidelines .. and aim to present Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines with best practices,” the European Commission said on February 8.
The EU executive launched a public consultation on February 5, giving parties until March 7 to give feedback. EU policymakers want tech giants to come up with “risk mitigation measures”, particularly concerning the “threat” from AI-generated content.
There will be national elections in Portugal, Belgium, Croatia, Romania and Austria this year, together with European Parliament elections in June.
US presidential elections are also due later this year, as well as ballots in Mexico, South Korea, Ghana and many other countries.
European Commissioner and self-styled “digital enforcer” Thierry Breton said on February 7: “We know the electoral period in the EU is going to be targeted by ‘hybrid attacks and foreign interference of all kinds’.”
On January 18, the EU sent requests to more than a dozen tech companies, including Amazon Apple, Meta and Alphabet’s Google asking them what measures they have taken or will take to give researchers access to data that could be “relevant” to the upcoming EU and national elections.