MIL-OSI Europe: Oral question – Disinformation and the role of social platforms – O-000060/2021

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Source: European Parliament

The European Union is facing increasing threats to democracy through covert foreign funding, information manipulation and other interference online. While – by virtue of attention-seeking business models – online platforms have widened access to information and communication tools, including for dissidents and whistle-blowers, their practices have also resulted in the spread of disinformation, the promotion of hate speech, harassment, the silencing of opponents, espionage, interference in elections and other criminal or malign activities. Issues related to the fight against disinformation, the use of advertisement systems, online harassment and other interference online have largely remained within the remit of the platform providers themselves due to a lack of a proper regulation at EU level. The principle of self-regulation has now shown its limitations. It is expected that the proposed Digital Services Act package will at least tackle part of the problem through strengthened requirements for online platforms. However, it not only requires effective legislation, but also a strategic approach at the institutional level, political coordination, credible instruments and countermeasures:

1. What political coordination across sectors and what kind of institutional set-up within the EU is the Commission proposing to close existing legislative gaps being exploited by malicious actors and coordinate collective counter-measures?

2. How does the EU level link with the Member State level and with the discussion on best practices at the national and regional levels, e.g. the development of a toolbox for countering foreign interference and influence operations, regulating foreign funding and introducing new instruments that allow costs to be imposed on perpetrators?

3. How does the Commission view the existing legislative proposals when it comes to the effective fight against disinformation and hate speech in all languages and what does the Commission expect from the updated Code of Practice on Disinformation and other measures?

4. What is the Commission’s assessment of requirements such as the transparency and regulation of the use of algorithms and political advertising in this context? What are its plans to deal with problems linked to data broking, which involves collecting and combining personal data from various sources and selling this aggregated data to third parties?

5. Finally, what is the Commission’s position with regard to the promotion of media literacy and a diverse media landscape, including a strong public sector, reliable sources of accurate information and support for authoritative and quality media content?

Submitted: 9.9.2021

Lapses: 10.12.2021

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