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Parliamentary questions
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5 December 2018
Answer given by Ms Gabriel on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-004536/2018

The Commission is aware of the technology referred to(1) but cannot yet gauge its impact.

The Commission's Communication on Tackling online disinformation(2) sets out actions to address the threats cited. For instance, a multi-stakeholder forum has finalised a self-regulatory Code of Practice on Disinformation for online platforms and the advertising sector(3). The Code signatories recognise ‘the importance of ensuring that online services include and promote safeguards against Disinformation’(4). The Commission is also supporting the creation of an independent European network of fact-checkers(5). Relevant Code signatories commit to support efforts to track and understand the impact of disinformation, including the efforts of the network(6). This could take into account evolutions in disinformation techniques, such as deep fakes. In its call for platforms to rapidly and effectively implement the Code, the Commission underlines the urgency of securing the integrity of the 2019 elections(7).

The Commission’s package on free and fair elections in Europe(8) included measures that address the fight against fake news and the protection of citizens against the abuse of their personal data.

The Commission also continues its investments in advanced online content verification tools, which support media practitioners. Five new H2020 innovation and support actions focusing on the development of such tools, totalling EUR 11 million, will start by the end of 2018.

In addition, in December 2018 the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will present, in cooperation with Member States, an action plan to strengthen the EU response to disinformation, including addressing technological developments like deep fakes.

(1)As the Commission has noted, ‘new, affordable, and easy-to-use technology is now available to create false pictures and audiovisual content (so called “deep fakes”), offering more potent means for manipulating public opinion’, Communication on Tackling online disinformation: a European approach, 26.04.2018 (COM(2018) 236), at 5.
(3)Communication, at pp. 8-9; Code, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/code-practice-disinformation
(4)Code, Chapter II.C, 2d Whereas clause.
(5)Communication, at pp. 9-10.
(6)Code, Chapter 11.E, Commitment No 12.
(8)http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-5681_en.htm. The measures include a recommendation on election cooperation networks, online transparency, protection against cybersecurity incidents and fighting disinformation campaigns, and Guidance on the application of EU data protection law in the electoral context; available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-cybersecurity-elections-recommendation-5949_en.pdf; and https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-data-protection-law-electoral-guidance-638_en.pdf

Last updated: 6 December 2018Legal notice