AI and Big Tech’s role in elections to be included in EU’s DSA

8 Feb 2024

Image: © Daniel Jędzura/Stock.adobe.com

The EU’s public consultation will run until 7 March to gather opinions on how it should approach solving threats to democracy like deepfakes.

With major elections on the horizon in 2024, concerns around the potential for tech to be used for nefarious purposes are being raised. Today (8 February) the EU has launched a public consultation to seek views on how Big Tech platforms’ impact on the electoral process should be regulated.

The consultation is open for feedback until 7 March. The views are being sought to inform draft guidelines for the Digital Services Act (DSA), the set of legislation that the EU put into motion last year. The DSA has designated several powerful tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, X and Meta as ‘very large online platforms’, meaning they are held to a set of strict regulations around ethical behaviour. The EU is now hoping to extend the regulations to cover the part these platforms play in elections.

It is hoping that the draft guidelines will be able to nail down – and mitigate – the potential risks Big Tech poses to the electoral process, such as the spreading of deepfakes or content designed to damage democratic processes. Special attention will be paid to rules around generative AI.

Some tech companies have been making efforts to ensure their tech is fully compliant with democratic standards in the lead up to elections. For example, OpenAI, Meta and Microsoft have shared AI policies for upcoming elections.

According to Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, the DSA means Europe is one of the first continents to address the “systematic risks” that online platforms can pose to democratic societies.

“2024 is a significant year for elections. That is why we are making full use of all the tools offered by the DSA to ensure platforms comply with their obligations and are not misused to manipulate our elections, while safeguarding freedom of expression.”

Margrethe Vestager, EVP for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said the consultation would pave the way for people to “engage, discuss and make up their minds without illegal interference”.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

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