Latest in Gear

Image credit: AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

The EU's election interference alert system isn't working properly

It was stymied by incomplete information and political disagreements.
130 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

The European Union was quick to report online interference in its recent elections, but the system designed to catch that interference apparently needs some improvement. The New York Times has learned through records and interviews that the EU's Rapid Alert System hasn't been very effective in aggregating meddling data or transmitting alerts. Most member states haven't contributed to its database, and what data is there tends to be a "mishmash" that may go unanalyzed. Disagreements over the seriousness of interference attempts have also led officials to avoid issuing alerts.

The political landscape is a significant problem by itself. Russia frequently exploits European websites and far-right political parties to further its agenda, but EU analysts aren't allowed to send warnings or debunk campaigns when they come from European outlets. The restriction is billed as an attempt to protect free speech, but ultimately limits Rapid Alert System users to either monitoring official Russian outlets or running generic myth-busting initiatives. And then there are the disagreements between countries. When Hungarian leadership repeats Russia's false claims about the Ukraine, for example, how does the EU go about chastising one of its own?

EU officials disagree with the assessment and believe RAS is an "important clearinghouse" across the Union, according to the Times. The officials contend that caution is vital, and that no other governing body has a system close to this. To some extent, merely having a common foundation for discussing interference helps.

There are signs of things getting better. The task force at the heart of this effort is finally getting funding and dedicated staff. Whether or not it can keep pace is another matter. The EU's report on election interference noted that Russian misinformation incidents roughly doubled in 2019. There's no certainty that RAS will be powerful enough to deter meddling in future elections, even if its operators address the core challenges.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
130 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster

Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster

View
Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program

Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program

View
IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech

IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech

View
US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve

US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve

View
The next Apple Watch may come in titanium and ceramic models

The next Apple Watch may come in titanium and ceramic models

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr