Content Assessment: The Fight Against Foreign Interference and Disinformation: An EU Perspective
Information - 90%
Insight - 92%
Relevance - 91%
Objectivity - 88%
Authority - 93%
A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit of the post highlighting the EU Parliament's considerations for addressing foreign interference and disinformation.
Editor’s Note: ComplexDiscovery OÜ is a technology marketing firm providing strategic planning and tactical execution expertise in support of cyber, data, and legal discovery organizations. Focused primarily on supporting the ComplexDiscovery publication, the company has been registered as a private limited company in the European Union (EU) country of Estonia, one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, since 2020. As an Estonian company operating in the EU, ComplexDiscovery OÜ regularly monitors and reports on EU actions influencing the eDiscovery ecosystem, actions ranging from data protection and cybersecurity initiatives to the current crisis in Ukraine. The recent press release, “EU Must Prepare Better to Fight Off Foreign Interference and Disinformation,” from the European Parliament is one example of this important coverage as it highlights the challenge of foreign interference and disinformation. This coverage may be useful for cybersecurity, information governance, and legal discovery professionals as they seek to address the threat of disinformation.
EU Must Prepare Better to Fight Off Foreign Interference and Disinformation
- Malicious and authoritarian countries, such as Russia and China, manipulate information to disrupt EU democracy
- European citizens and governments are overwhelmingly unaware of threats from foreign actors
- Call for sanctions on foreign interference and disinformation campaigns
- Authorities should consider revoking the licenses of organizations distributing foreign state propaganda
The EU’s lack of awareness and counter-measures makes interference an attractive tactic for malicious foreign actors and endangers democracy, say Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Parliament’s inquiry into mapping how malicious foreign powers manipulate information and interfere in the EU to undermine democratic processes concluded that malicious actors can, without fear of consequences, influence elections, carry out cyber-attacks, recruit former senior politicians and advance polarisation in public debate.
The report by the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE) says that a general lack of awareness of the severity of foreign interference and information manipulation, overwhelmingly carried out by Russia and China, is exacerbated by loopholes in legislation and insufficient coordination between EU countries.
In the ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russian government has demonstrated that “even information can be weaponized” as Russia spreads “disinformation of an unparalleled malice and magnitude” to deceive its citizens and the international community about the war. Parliament welcomes the recently-introduced EU-wide ban on Russian propaganda outlets such as Sputnik TV and RT.
It urges the EU to create a common strategy to face the challenge of disinformation, including by putting in place specific sanctions related to foreign interference and disinformation campaigns. MEPs also insist on involving civil society organizations in raising public awareness and spreading general information, as seen for example in the best practice example of Taiwan, and they underline the need for global action with like-minded partners.
In addition, Parliament recommends the following measures:
- broadly distributed, pluralistic, independent media, journalists, fact-checkers and researchers should receive public funding;
- consideration given to revoking the licenses of organizations distributing foreign state propaganda;
- forcing social media platforms, which serve as vehicles for foreign interference, to stop boosting inauthentic accounts that drive the spread of harmful foreign interference, including in languages other than English;
- European universities should reconsider their cooperation with Confucius Institutes, which are Chinese lobby platforms;
- seek clarification on “highly inappropriate” relations between certain European political parties and Russia;
- ban foreign funding of European and national political parties;
- urgently improve cybersecurity, list surveillance software such as Pegasus as illegal; and
- make it harder for foreign actors to recruit former top politicians after they have left their job.
The report was adopted with 552 votes, 81 against and 60 abstentions. For more detailed recommendations, click here.
“While the war is ongoing in Ukraine, online platforms and tech companies need to take a stand by suspending accounts that deny, glorify or justify aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. In the long term, we need a clear strategy from the European Commission and truly binding EU rules on accountability and transparency for online platforms. Resilience must be our protective shield – we should invest massively in supporting independent quality media, including in the EU’s neighborhood”, Rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (EPP, LV) said.
“For twenty years, fed by the myth of the End of History, convinced that they no longer have enemies, European elites have shown a puzzling naivety and culpable flippancy. This committee, set up to end this indolence, has worked to wake Europe up so that our democracies learn to defend themselves”, said Chair Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, FR).
The Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE) was set up in June 2020. After roughly 50 hearings with around 130 experts, the committee’s one-and-a-half-year mandate lapses on 23 March.
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