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General Elections: Disinformation

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are planning to take to prevent fake advertisements and fake news funded from unknown sources seeking to undermine parliamentary elections.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

The Government takes the integrity of our electoral processes extremely seriously and we are working across Government to strengthen our electoral system and defend it from interference. In July 2019, the Cabinet Office announced the creation of the Defending Democracy programme, which has been set up to pull together existing work and expertise in this area from right across Government.

The Defending Democracy programme has been set up by the Government in order to protect and secure UK democratic processes, systems and institutions from interference including from cyber, personnel and physical threats; to strengthen the integrity of UK elections; to encourage respect for open, fair and safe democratic participation; and to promote fact-based and open discourse, including online.

On 5th May 2019 the Cabinet Office also announced a range of measures to better safeguard UK elections by cracking down on intimidation, malign influence, interference and disinformation. This included commitments to launch a consultation on electoral integrity and implement a digital imprints regime for online election material.

The Government has built relationships with social media companies and will continue to have regular and robust dialogue with them on how to limit the spread of disinformation and other kinds of propaganda designed to serve political interests. Social media platforms have taken action to protect the integrity and security of the elections. They are providing online safety and security guidance to parties and candidates and are improving transparency of political advertising on their platforms and processes for removal of fake accounts. While we welcome these measures, there is clearly much more to be done to tackle these issues and other online harms.

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