How can the EU safeguard democracy at the digital age? 
Faktabaari (FactBar) Founder Mikko Salo was invited 15th of October to European parliament to catalyse debate on “Digitization and the defense of democracy” organised by European Internet Forum. Debate was moderated by MEP Roza Thun with high-level contributions from academy, business and European Commission. The interventions were followed by lively debate including several MEP’s and industry representatives. The purpose was both to evaluate the situation and identify concrete EU policies to safeguard democracy in the EU. Below Mikko Salo notes on 7 minutes intervention on behalf of transparency NGO run Finnish factchecking service. Awarded Faktabaari (FactBar) has contributed to the fact-based European debate and election integrity with independent fact-checking and digital media literacy since 2014 and was already represented by Salo at the EU high-level group on online disinformation. *** Thank you for the invitation. My aim is to provoke debate especially with focus **on elections and related disinformation **- themes transparency NGO run Faktabaari (FactBar) has worked intensively since 2014 European elections. Let’s approach the magnitude of challenges to EU from next US foreseen US presidential elections. The next US presidential elections are widely expected to be dirtiest ever and next global benchmark for new forms of disinformation and elections interference. With fact-checking background, I am especially worried on the impact of audiovisual manipulations - including “deep fakes” - when properly micro-targeted in social media advertisement platforms. Until we have better tools, the dominant social media will and should remain under public pressure. US presidential elections are the reference social media elections also for EU. *** Having followed closely many of the European efforts to tackle disinformation in 2019, I argue that we just about survived 2019 European elections and remained now operational to prepare for worse. Latest 2024 EP elections will measure both the success of your legistlature but also the success of EU digital response to defending democracy and we all have lot to do soon. The EU foreseen rescue plan – so called “democracy action plan” - is to be build already in “100 days” with the lead of VP Jourova. In other words the “rescue plan” is to be build already by February with close links to VP Vestager responsabilities. Within my short slot, I raise 3 key challenges and 3 key areas of actions on how, I believe, EU should safeguard democracy in the digital age. 1. Deliver tangible results EU needs to deliver tangible policy results to citizens and by that demonstrate efficiency and value added of European democracy. These results do not need to limit to digital world - tangible results can also for example be EU level migration policy or the green deal. 2. Fix broaken internet with privacy and mediainnovation Internet is broaken and eg. digital newsecosystem driven by polarising advertisement algorithms. EU needs to enable privacy and media innovation to rebuild trust. 3 . Ensure media pluralism and awareness EU needs to ensure especially plurality of journalistic media while scaling-up measurable media literacy efforts to “massive scale” (citing EU HLEG on online disinformation report). Lots of work already with these. *** What about the 3 key areas of concrete actions?
Mikko Salo, Avoin yhteiskunta ry