Elections and referendums must be protected from foreign interference, manipulation and disinformation, warn Labour MEPs

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Labour MEPs have demanded urgent action to protect elections and referendums from foreign interference, manipulation and disinformation after the European Parliament voted today for a resolution calling for more to be done to defend national and European democratic processes, in particular election meddling and disinformation from Russia.

The resolution, which was initially proposed by Labour's Socialists and Democrats Group, calls for "monitoring of the impact of foreign interference across Europe" and puts forward plans to "address the threats of external intervention in our European elections". It also calls for the EU East StratCom Task Force, which focuses on disinformation from Europe's eastern neighbours, to be upgraded to a permanent mission, and calls on the European Commission to shine a light on "the question of foreign funding of European political parties and foundations" by external actors.

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party voted against the resolution.

Claude Moraes MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:

“There is continuing evidence of interference emerging in the run-up to all major recent national and European elections. Many of them favoured anti-EU and extremist candidates, using minorities and vulnerable groups like migrants or LGBTI people as targets.

“To protect our democracy in the future we urgently need reforms and ambitious actions at both national and the European level. Member states cannot address these threats by working in isolation, nor can private sector self-regulation solve it all. First, we should understand to what extent legal loopholes on the European and national level have been used, particularly in the fields of data protection, party and campaign funding, and cyber security.

“It is already clear that we need urgent reform of our electoral laws in several member states. I welcome improvements that have already been made by social media companies and the European Commission, but they should go further. The Commission should immediately address the question of foreign financing of European political parties and foundations.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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