The Strategist

EC calls to protect elections from intervention

10/25/2018 - 15:33

The European authorities should not approach the upcoming elections to the European Parliament as an ordinary event, Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová warned her colleagues. And it’s not only and not so much about the coming political race between supporters of Eurocentrism and nationalists. According to the European Commissioner, scandals surrounding the leakage of data in Cambridge Analytica and attempts of private companies and states to influence voting results in different countries have shown that the conditions in which the elections are held have changed dramatically.

The upcoming elections to the European Parliament, which will be held in May 2019, will be the first for the European Union when the new rules for the processing of personal data - the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) - will apply. Among other things, the regulation was adopted by the European authorities in order to protect the EU electoral system from cyber attacks and outside interference. But yesterday, European Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová, speaking in the European Parliament, said that this is not enough for holding fair and independent elections.

First of all, according to the European Commissioner, the EU governments should not treat the upcoming elections to the European Parliament as something ordinary.

“One thing can be said with certainty: the upcoming elections will not be ordinary, and we cannot treat them as if they were such,” The Guardian quoted Mrs. Jourová during her speech at the European Parliament. “Our current laws in the field of elections, our habits and elective procedures stem from our non-digital past. In particular, restrictions on election campaign budgets, strict political advertising rules, including transparency of who campaigns and who pays for them.”

The security of the electoral system was discussed at the European Commission last week at a special conference. Following its results, Mrs. Jourová noted the need to update the EU legislation in the field of elections. The Commission wants the EU to develop rules that would regulate the electoral process not only offline, but also in the digital environment: “Given that political parties are increasingly collecting funds on the Internet, the European Commission recommends that all of them, as well as foundations and campaign organizers, do this in the most transparent way possible. Citizens should be able to recognize online advertising that is addressed to them in the context of elections, and also understand who is behind it,” said Ms. Jourová.

In addition, the European Commission encourages countries to cooperate more closely. In particular, it calls on the governments of EU member states to create a single body that would monitor social networks and the Internet as a whole during election campaigns.