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EU Parliamentary Committee On Foreign Interference Concludes Inquiry, Recommends Sanctions Regime Against Disinformation

January 30th, 2022 13:04

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is report­ing that its Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on For­eign Inter­fer­ence (INGE) has con­clud­ed its inquiry and rec­om­mends build­ing a sanc­tions regime against dis­in­for­ma­tion. Accord­ing to a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment press release:

Jan­u­ary 25, 2022 On Tues­day, MEPs finalised 18 months of inquiry by the Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on For­eign Inter­fer­ence (INGE) and adopt­ed its final rec­om­men­da­tions.  The Euro­pean pub­lic and gov­ern­ment offi­cials are “over­whelm­ing­ly” unaware of the sever­i­ty of the threat posed by for­eign auto­crat­ic regimes, in par­tic­u­lar Rus­sia and Chi­na, MEPs say in the text. Insuf­fi­cient defence made it eas­i­er for mali­cious actors to take over crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, car­ry out cyber-attacks, recruit for­mer senior politi­cians and prop­a­gate polar­i­sa­tion in the pub­lic debate. This is exac­er­bat­ed by loop­holes in leg­is­la­tion and not enough coor­di­na­tion between EU coun­tries.  Coun­ter­ac­tion  To counter the threats, INGE mem­bers urge the EU to raise pub­lic aware­ness through train­ing for peo­ple in sen­si­tive func­tions and gen­er­al infor­ma­tion cam­paigns. In addi­tion, the EU should beef up its capa­bil­i­ties and build a sanc­tions regime against dis­in­for­ma­tion. Rules on social media plat­forms, which serve as vehi­cles for for­eign inter­fer­ence, have to be tight­ened, too.

Read the rest here.

In addi­tion, the EU com­mit­tee rec­om­mend­ed the fol­low­ing poli­cies to counter dis­in­for­ma­tion, accord­ing to the press release:

  • sup­port broad­ly dis­trib­uted, plu­ral­is­tic media and fact-checkers;
  • make online plat­forms invest in lan­guage skills to be able to act on ille­gal and harm­ful con­tent in all EU languages;
  • treat dig­i­tal elec­tion infra­struc­ture as critical;
  • pro­vide financ­ing alter­na­tives to Chi­nese for­eign direct invest­ment used as a geopo­lit­i­cal tool;
  • clar­i­fy “high­ly inap­pro­pri­ate” rela­tions between cer­tain Euro­pean polit­i­cal par­ties and Russia;
  • ban for­eign fund­ing of Euro­pean polit­i­cal parties;
  • urgent­ly improve cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, clas­si­fy and reg­is­ter sur­veil­lance soft­ware such as Pega­sus as ille­gal and ban their use;
  • make it hard­er for for­eign actors to recruit for­mer top politi­cians too soon after they have left their job.

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 at the end of March.

In Novem­ber, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Mon­i­tor report­ed on a draft report by INGE which accused Rus­sia and Chi­na of being “par­tic­u­lar­ly active in the field of elite cap­ture and co-opta­tion” and iden­ti­fied sev­er­al for­mer high-rank­ing Euro­pean politi­cians as Russ­ian and Chi­nese influ­ence agents, includ­ing sev­er­al for­mer prime min­is­ters and ministers.