Elections Still Face Risk of Foreign Interference on Both Sides of the Atlantic, High-level Commission Warns
A transatlantic, bi-partisan group of political, tech, business and media leaders are warning that neither side of the Atlantic is adequately prepared for the next wave of election meddling coming their way in 20+ major elections before 2020.
The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI) includes a former NATO Chief, US Homeland Security Secretary, US Vice-President, heads of state and senior political, media and tech figures.
It seeks to foster a more transatlantic and collective approach to preventing the next wave of election interference, which is not just an attack on governments, but on every individuals’ right to vote, enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The commission will actively raise public awareness about the risks of interference while working to develop new models and technologies to empower civil society to defend elections. This includes:
- Launching a series of election risk monitors ahead of critical elections to raise awareness on vulnerabilities to foreign interference;
- Working with technology companies to develop innovative tools that will empower civil society to fight disinformation and false content such as deep fake videos;
- Supporting bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Congress and a more uniform government approach to prevent a repeat of the 2016 interference;
- Deploying election task forces to monitor and report real-time interference in critical elections starting with the Westen Balkans in 2018 and Ukraine in 2019.
The Commission held its first meeting last month in Copenhagen, hearing from a senior U.S. official as well as leading experts on the fields of foreign policy, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence.
The Commission released the following statements after its meeting:
On the U.S. Midterm Elections
Eighteen months after the 2016 presidential elections, the U.S. is not fully prepared for the next wave of election interference it may encounter in November and beyond.
The lack of cohesion among U.S. elected officials in addressing this problem is especially unfortunate given the ample means the U.S. government has to confront this threat head-on. There are currently nine election-related bills, the vast majority of them bipartisan, awaiting consideration.
Further, there is an urgent need for meaningful communication between the executive and legislative branches of government. While the current administration has taken positive steps to protect voting systems, its actions and rhetoric have not always been in sync leading to confusion within Congress and, most important, the American electorate.
While the Commission takes no position on any one piece of legislation, we will
continue our efforts to induce Congress to take action on this issue and encourage the U.S. government to show leadership on this issue.
On European Preparedness and the Launch of An Election Risk Monitor
The challenge facing the US is no smaller on the other side of the Atlantic: almost 20 European countries will hold elections in the next two years, including the European Parliament elections. But Europe remains largely unprepared, both at the EU and national level.
Europeans are not bringing the resources to bear where needed, especially to address the growing challenge of hyper-partisan narratives that exploit divisive and wedge issues. We need a holistic EU-wide response integrating not just legislative and strategic communications but also technological solutions to disinformation.
In the coming year, the Commission will release a series of Election Risk Monitors to help European countries better identify and address the vulnerabilities they face in preventing the next wave of foreign interference.
On Confronting Disinformation and Seeking Technological Solutions
Governments are scrambling to prepare for the last disinformation campaign, rather than the next. Yet in the coming years, the proliferation of technology will make it easy for everyone to sow the seeds of confusion and distrust. Artificial Intelligence based technology will lower the entry-level and provide a set of highly disruptive tools such as the use of deep fake videos.
We need to be one step ahead and engage with the technology community to find smart solutions that detect fake content and build up the resilience of both governments and citizens. Against the proliferation of new technology, the best answers are detection and inoculation.
The Commission will work with technology partners to identify tools that better track disinformation and detect when videos are fake. We will also engage in public awareness campaigns to help build the resilience of citizens around the world to fake content.
Members of the Commission attending the first meeting are:
Joe Biden – Vice President of the United States (2009-2017)
Felipe Calderon – President of Mexico (2006-2012)
Michael Chertoff – United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009), Co-Chair
Nick Clegg - Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2010-2015)
Eileen Donahoe - Executive Director, Global Digital Policy Incubator, Stanford Centre for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law
Toomas Hendrik Ilves – President of Estonia (2006-2016)
Natalie Jaresko – Executive Director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, Finance Minister of Ukraine (2014-2016)
Tanit Koch – Editor-in-Chief of BILD newspaper (2016-2018)
Jeanne Meserve – Anchor/ correspondent at ABC and CNN (1984-2011), Senior Fellow at the GWU Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (2011-2017
Victor Pinchuk – Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist, founder of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation
Anders Fogh Rasmussen – NATO Secretary General (2009-2014), Founder, Alliance of Democracies, Co-Chair
Marietje Schaake – Member of the European Parliament, Vice-President of the European Parliament delegation to the U.S
Joanna Shields – CEO of BenevolentAI, UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security and Under-Secretary of State (2015-2017), Member of the UK House of Lords
In addition, the Commission includes:
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert MP, Dutch Minister of Defence (2012-2017)
John Negroponte, US Deputy Secretary of State (2007-2009), US Director of National Intelligence (2005-2007)
To view videos of each Commissioner explaining their reasons for joining the Commission,CLICK HERE.
To read an Op Ed by Nick Clegg on the challenge of election integrity, CLICK HERE.
The commission is part of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of democracy and free markets across the globe. For more information visit www.allianceofdemocracies.org.