EU steps up fake news fight ahead of elec­tions

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

BRUS­SELS: The EU took steps on Wed­nes­day to pro­tect up­com­ing elec­tions against dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns from sus­pects like Rus­sia, launch­ing a bloc-wide alert sys­tem and pres­sur­ing in­ter­net gi­ants like Face­book for more help.

Of­fi­cials said their cam­paign will try to blunt the ha­tred and di­vi­sions fu­elling the rise of rightwing and pop­ulist par­ties in a num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries.

“We need to be united and join our forces to pro­tect our democ­ra­cies against dis­in­for­ma­tion,” said An­drus An­sip, the EU’s vice pres­i­dent for the dig­i­tal sin­gle mar­ket.

“We have seen at­tempts to in­ter­fere in elec­tions and ref­er­enda, with ev­i­dence point­ing to Rus­sia as a pri­mary source of these cam­paigns,” An­sip added.

Euro­pean Union of­fi­cials said they are tak­ing steps to pro­tect democ­ra­cies and pub­lic de­bate ahead of elec­tions in May to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as well as be­fore dozens of elec­tions in mem­ber coun­tries through 2020.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the ex­ec­u­tive arm of the 28-na­tion bloc, called for a sys­tem in which EU bod­ies and mem­ber states alert each other to dis­in­for­ma­tion in real time. Set for March, the sys­tem will al­low mem­bers to share data and anal­y­sis on pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns and pro­mote what the bloc says will be ob­jec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions about its val­ues and poli­cies. The plan will boost the Com­mis­sion’s bud­get to tackle dis­in­for­ma­tion and raise aware­ness from 1.9 mil­lion eu­ros to five mil­lion eu­ros next year.

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