S&Ds: We need new rules to protect the integrity of our elections in a digital age

Lap top with DATA PROTECTION on it and girl holding smart phone

During a debate today in Strasbourg on what can be done to protect the European Parliament elections from foreign interference, S&D MEPs called on national governments to stop blocking legislative proposals that will help protect citizens’ privacy online. S&D Group leader Udo Bullmann, who was not available to speak in the debate, also made clear that if tech giants did not take real action to prevent the spread of misinformation and fake news on their sites, then the Group will push for legislation to ensure it.

S&D Group leader Udo Bullmann said:

“Following the revelations of massive misuse of citizens’ data in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, we have put the issue of digital manipulation in elections at the top of the European Parliament’s agenda. Tech giants cannot be allowed to continue to make billions of Euros from algorithms that encourage the spread of false or misleading information, particularly when it is used to damage our democracies. We have repeatedly called on Facebook to show how it is going to ensure that this does not happen in the run up to the European elections. Their failure to do so shows the faults with the current model of self-regulation; if they do not improve then we will push for sweeping new powers to ensure that they do.”

Claude Moraes, S&D MEP and chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee added:

“Elections across Europe and the world have seen attempts by foreign actors to create divisions between people, using misinformation and fake news spread on social media platforms to discredit our democratic systems. With only six months to go until the European elections, we need to see urgent action to ensure that are defences are robust against foreign interference.

“Our Group led the fight in the European Parliament to look into the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, to ensure that the massive misuse of our citizens’ personal data cannot happen again. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force this summer, is already an important step forward. However, it is only part of the answer. Data protection must go hand-in-hand with stronger protections for citizen’s’ privacy online. We urge national governments to finally approve the e-Privacy Regulation. Thanks to the S&D Group, the Parliament has adopted a strong position on the regulation and we urge member states to finalise these proposals as soon as possible.”