Out with the old, in with the new
Last Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen was elected as the President of the EU Commission by the European Parliament. In her candidacy speech, she affirmed her commitment to fair taxation for tech giants, which was something that was certainly shared by MEPs from all of the major European political groups during the debate.
Now that von der Leyen has been elected, it makes sense to look at her political priorities vis-à-vis disinformation:
- She has ambitiously set her future Commission the task of updating the Digital Education Action Plan;
- In order to ‘upgrade liability and safety rules for digital platforms’, she aims to create a new Digital Services Act;
- Establishment of a joint Cyber Unit to ‘speed up information sharing and better protect ourselves from the risks arising from digitisation’;
- Foreshadowing the importance of the EU Code of Practice, she stresses the need for a joint approach and common standards to disinformation as a means to safeguard democracy.
In related news, under the recommendations of the previous Romanian Council of the EU presidency, EU Member States have agreed to set up a Council horizontal working party for addressing disinformation; a more structured approach in strengthening resilience and countering disinformation.
Alice in Youtubeland
In Wired, former Youtube developer Guillaume Chaslot argued that Youtube’s loop is potentially toxic in its ability to push extreme content as per its design. Youtube’s UK Managing Director defended the platform’s AI, which uses recommendation algorithms designed to increase the time that people spend online, arguing that ‘it is important that platforms don’t take a view of banning speakers’ otherwise it would ‘start to look like censorship’. Interestingly, the BBC reported on how Youtube’s AI may have helped the Flat Earth conspiracy theory spread. If you want to know more about this, check out Chaslot’s podcast for the Center for Humane Technology!
- A new Facebook tool tells you how an ad was targeted and which third-party agency or data broker was used.
- Last Tuesday, a scam-busting service was launched by Facebook for its British users, which helps users report potentially fake ads that are then investigated by a specially-trained Facebook team.
- Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips was caught lying over her previous employment with Cambridge Analytica; a role where she had advised the Kenyan politician Kenyatta in his successful 2017 presidential bid. His campaign raised serious concerns over the use of misinformation and voter manipulation.
- The Royal United Services Institute has released a report that examines the ‘Surkov Leaks’, providing a detailed insider’s view of Russia’s strategy and disinformation tactics for destabilising Ukraine.
- Almost the whole population of Bulgaria had their personal data stolen in a cyberattack on the state authorities.
- In partnership with other stakeholders, The Atlantic Council has released a post-mortem analysis of the Macron Leaks, detailing what happened; who potentially orchestrated the affair; how it was successfully countered, and what lessons can be learned.
Events and Announcements
- 13-15 September @ Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands – IBC Conference ‘Consumers First: A new era in media’
- 25-27 September @ Helsinki, Finland – MyData 2019 Conference for accelerating global change towards a human-centric approach to personal data.
Image credit © 2018 Daniel Aleksandersen