Disinfo Update 30/09/2019

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The Brussels’ Corner – Grilling Time

In preparation for the public hearings of the next European Commission, the European Parliament has published the written responses of the Commissioners-designate. They mostly provide general remarks relating to their portfolios. For disinformation and digital issues, we’ve outlined the main takeaways from the responses of the relevant Commissioners-designate:

Margrethe Vestager (Executive Vice President / A Europe fit for the Digital Age)

The Digital Services Act 

  • Ensuring that digital platforms and the services they offer are there to serve citizens rather than the other way around, and that a strong ecosystem of digital players, including from Europe, can develop and strive in all sectors of the economy. 
  • Upgrading our liability and safety rules for digital platforms, services and products, the treatment of so-called ‘platform workers’, as well as the role of certain platforms as gatekeepers for users and for businesses in a number of key sectors of the digital economy.

Věra Jourová (Vice President / Values and Transparency)

European Democracy Action Plan

  • A holistic approach and coherent standards in order to be effective on issues such as disinformation and online hate speech without compromising fundamental rights such as the freedom of speech.
  • Practical solutions that ensure greater transparency in the area of paid political advertising and clearer rules on the financing of European political parties.
  • Addressing issues such as access and use of data.

Sylvie Goulard (Internal Market)

Digital Services Act

  • Strengthening a level playing field for digital services; ensuring fair, responsible and transparent behaviour of online platforms; protecting our fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and privacy; keeping markets open and non-discriminatory to foster a data-driven economy.
  • Clarity and effective processes for tackling the dissemination of illegal content online.
  • Addressing emerging problems related inter alia to algorithmic decision making, data access, digital advertising, etc.’

Mariya Gabriel (Innovation and Youth) – 

Digital Education Action Plan

  • Teachers should be a particular focus of this effort […] if we can improve the digital capacity and confidence of teachers, this in turn will help them equip young people with the digital skills they need, both for their professional life, and for their participation in society.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-read timetable for the hearings, Politico has it.

Facebook and the Act of Political Neutrality

In a blog post last week, Nick Clegg affirmed that Facebook will not fact-check politicians’ speech or block their content – even if it violates the site’s hate-speech rules or other policies. Clegg claims the idea is for users to ‘judge what politicians say themselves’. Facebook has followed in the footsteps of Twitter who in June of this year announced it would not prohibit politicians’ tweets that violated its rules. Twitter instead introduced a notice to preface the tweets, which states that, ‘the Twitter rules about abusive behaviour apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available’.

In the news…

Good reads…

Studies…

Events and Announcements

  • Alongside other CSOs, the Open Society European Policy Institute, and The European Consumer Organisation, EU DisinfoLab has co-signed a manifesto striving for a human-centric approach to European digital policies and regulation.
  • 16 October @ EU DisinfoLab webinar – ‘Digital Architectures, Social Engineering, and Networked Disinformation on Social Media’ with Michael Bossetta. Pre-register here
  • 22 October @ Public Knowledge, Washington DC – EU DisinfoLab is coming to DC for an event on Joining Forces to Combat Disinformation: Cases and Regulatory Trends
  • 4-5 April @ European Solidarity Centre, Gdańsk, Poland – 7th edition of the Personal Democracy Forum

Jobs

  • Access Now is hiring a Policy Manager for the Middle Eastern and North African region.
  • Center for Humane Technology is looking to add five new additions to their team. More information here.