(11l) Rules to prevent that elections are influenced by unknows

Nick Clegg, criticised by the EU because, as an senior employee of Facebook (FB), he helped FB to create rules to prevent foreign interference in (EU) elections. The rule: companies that want to run advertisements (in short: ads) on FB (to influence elections) in a certain country can do so only if they are registered in that country. It seems logic although, this means ads can be blocked.
And this may be a problem for the EU: as it seems it is only registered in Belgium, i.e. Brussels, the capital of the EU, these rules may not allow the EU to show ads in other countries than Belgium about the elections it organises and that concern itself most. Indeed, although in each country other candidates campaign to become MEP (Member of the European Parliament), the EU wants to run ads via social media throughout the EU (as it already does) to convince people of the importance to take the European elections serious and thus to vote as it concerns a decision-making power that concerns all Europeans.
Thus, now the most senior EU civil servants ask FB for an explanation as the rules seem to be close to influencing elections. Indeed, for multi-nation-wide elections, it is not possible that people should be a resident in the country where they want to run ads on FB as part of their election campaign. Indeed, imagine that in future EU presidents are elected but candidates can only campaign in their own country. It is similar as if a US presidential candidate can only campaign in his/her own state. Thus, it should be possible to register at the international organisation so candidates can campaign in all concerned countries where the international organisations is recognised. Still, I'm not the proposed rules.

In more details
First, I think the EU should have come forward with solutions after public discussions with companies, parliaments and involvement of the public. I think not companies should come forward with their own proposal although of course, they can have internal guidelines.
No, the EU should set rules so all companies and organisations are treated in the same way although a number of scenarios can be available so companies and organisations can choose what suits them most.
Afterwards, companies and organisations need to implement those general rules for their own company (China, although not the best example concerning freedom of expression, illustrates companies can be forced to accept certain rules set by a country) while the public knows what can be expected.
Yes, I think it's important for a democracy to know who is behind ads, certainly as their intention is to influence the public and even to change people's opinion and behaviour. When we know who are behind certain information, than it's easier to differentiate between correct and fake news.

> Thus, in case of private persons, I'm against anonymous comments as people should take responsibility for what they publish although that's not always easy when it concerns oppressive governments that abuse human rights.
Thus, in general people's name or nickname should be linked with their real name during the registration and this should suffice for public persons. The combination of ID card and biometric information can validate the person's identity. The advantage is that fewer people will dare to bully other people and use foul-mouthed language on the internet and thus the internet will become more friendly; those who bully can be found and punished. Of course, companies should be punished if they allow that people are not linked to a certain identity.
As mentioned, in certain dangerous regimes, people's identity may have to be protected whereby (internet) companies disobey rules to avoid people are arrested or worse for having an opinion. But in normal situations, law enforcers should be able when they have a court order to access people's accounts in case they suspect unlawful activities. Thus, rules that companies and organisations must follow should protect the public.

> Concerning companies and organisations, I think it's important to know who is behind ads and thus who ordered or financed the publicity or support a certain politician. Indeed, we also want to know information about companies so we can decide whether or not to invest in or buy products from a company; similar, we also want to know about the people, companies and organisations behind (political) ads and so know how powerful individuals in those companies think. An example are climate change denying ads, based on independent or fossil fuel-sponsored research? And thus people can take informed decisions.
And thus, yes, I think they should either register in individual countries (e.g. smaller companies and organisations may prefer this option because cheaper) or, if preferred, at EU level in case companies and organisations want the same ads in all concerned countries where the EU is registered, e.g. when a company wants to campaign in many countries.
As the EU is an international organisation, and a powerful political one, it could make laws that e.g. allow that companies and organisations register in one member or the EU and the commercials can be seen in all concerned members. However, I think that's not the best solution because I think that in these cases, companies could register in the least ethical country to play ads in all members while the different members have little control over those companies and organisations unless the country where they are registered agrees to act on the request of the other member that considers an ads unethical; another possibility of control can be when a higher international court of justice accepts and thus judges the complain of a member.
Still, I think the proposal of FB is not bad so each country has the information from companies, countries and organisations and can decide what is possible or not. Countries and organisations but also individuals can always disagree with the content of proposed ads and refuse them or even go to local courts and international level. I think it is also good because this obliges the EU to register and thus be present at local level (i.e. each member state) where its address is registered (kind of embassy) and thus it can communicate in each member state while it is closer to the people in their own language so the EU can answer more directly questions and concerns of individuals such as why it is good to unite in diversity as it allows cooperation over the borders and hopefully better neighborship. Of course, when a politician wants to be elected in all member states (e.g. during a presidential campaign), than it should be possible that the individual politician is registered at EU level and thus all member states where the EU is registered, this to prevent a member can prevent a person campaigns in their own country; indeed, if the message is extreme than people should decide whether they like that extremism or not. Politics should reflect society whereby politicians can counter argue an (extreme) political idea if they don't agree while society should be able to defend itself from ads that are more one-way as it is more difficult to response against the ad's message. Even more local level (such as the underground or train system) should be be to decide whether a certain message in an ad is acceptable or not.

I believe, as long as it is known who's behind campaigns, political interference should be possible, even from outside and as done over decades by the West in countries to convince them that our way of democracy is the best. Indeed, if unjust information is advertised than the EU or any other country (similar for companies and even individuals) should react by explaining why something is wrong and, if needed, by going to court to stop the disinformation when it can be proven to be wrong. When the people behind an ad are known, than people can decide who they believe.
Examples are the latest American elections where people who voted for Mr Trump agreed (among other election promises) that a wall should be built to keep migrants out the US, even when there is suspicion that Russia may have influenced the election. If people disagreed with this wall, they would not have voted for Mr Trump, whatever the influence of Russia. Further, I think it is correct that Mrs Clinton lost the election partially because it became known to the public that she used her private email server to communicate with others, even when this was not the way to do it. If she hadn't done so, the FBI could not have made public just before voting day that they were investigating what she did, even when some say it's Russia who collected the information; I think it's important in a democracy to know that a politician uses other than official communication tools for work so people can vote informed. Because, when politicians do things hidden, certainly in our times, than how can people thrust that person will not do things again without our knowledge?

Nick Clegg, a personal dislike by EU leaders?
Still, I also think that the problem is the person Nick Clegg. Indeed, he was one of two leaders, i.e. as deputy PM in PM Cameron's government, who allowed the referendum on the future of the UK within the EU took place (and I agree such referendums should be possible as it can result in a good campaign and later better informed citizens).
As President Tusk, one of two EU presidents said: may those who voted out burn in a special place in hell. Probably he also thought about those who allowed the referendum to happen as it destabilised the continent. I think that those who allowed that the referendum happened can't do much good in the eyes of many European politicians but also for many Remainers in the UK. And thus, the EU may not be amused to be lectured by Mr Clegg on how to prevent interference by some in European elections.

Finally, as the article about the hell mentions, I think a man such as David Davis may have been right that other member states may have negotiated with the UK if only everyone in the UK would have accepted the outcome and would have stand as one man behind the negotiators although the EU acted as one block to protect the EU's achievements but also to show others who plan to organise a referendum that out is worse than in. Still, as the British were hopelessly divided and up to more than 2 years after the referendum, the momentum is very likely gone and I fear the UK lost any credibility, both in the EU as on the world stage. This may end with nothing or something bad. Indeed, even those who were hopeful after the "out" vote are now depressed and the only thing that is left is an angry nation full with hate against fellow countrymen but also against the EU.


Popular posts from this blog

Brexit, refugee crisis and the EU

(7i) Return to (travel) business in times of a virus

(20b) Coronavirus statistics: how to present data about cases and mortality