Italy issues meta-urgent information request on election interference measures

Days before Italy’s general elections, the country’s privacy watchdog sent an urgent information request to Facebook’s parent company (Meta), clarifying to the social media giant the measures it was taking before and after Sunday’s elections. I asked.

Over the years, growing awareness of how disinformation is seeded, disseminated and amplified on algorithmic platforms such as Facebook, democratic processes continue to be central targets for malicious influence manipulation. The risk of election interference via social media continues to be a major concern for regulators, as it is viewed .

The European Union’s privacy regulator also pays attention to how platforms handle personal data, as they have data protection laws in force that regulate the processing of sensitive data such as political opinions.

in seconds press release For yesterday’s request, guarantor point to previous $1.1 million sanctions imposed on Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandaland for the “candidates” project launched by Facebook for the 2018 Italian general election, wrote: [in Italian; translated here using machine translation] “Particular attention should be paid to the processing of data suitable for revealing the political views of interested parties, and the free expression of thought should be respected.”

“Facebook must provide timely information on the initiatives undertaken. On the nature and methods of data processing in the contract for the purposes of sending reminders and publishing information “stickers” (part of the Meta group It will also be published on Instagram, which is ). As announced, about the measures taken to ensure that the initiative is directed only to persons of legal age,” Watchdog added.

The move follows what has been described as an “information campaign” by Meta targeting Italian users, said to aim to counter interference and remove content that discourages voting. -Time, and cooperation with independent fact-checking organizations.

of guarantor It said the campaign’s existence was made public by Meta Publishing.”Memorial” (Note). however, Meta website page Providing an informational overview about preparing for the next election currently only offers downloadable documents detailing its approach to the US midterm elections and Brazil’s elections. There is no information here about Meta’s approach to the Italian general election. Nor is there any information about the information campaigns Meta is (apparently) running locally.

Another page on Meta’s website — entitled “”electoral integrity— contains many additional articles on preparing for elections elsewhere. 2022 General Elections in Kenya; 2022 philippines general election; and Ethiopia — 2021 — General ElectionIn addition, our previous article on state elections in India. Among other things, the latest information on Georgia’s runoff election from the end of 2020.

But again, Meta doesn’t seem to provide any information here on preparations for the Italian general election.

The reason for this oversight, perhaps for what it is, could be related to the fact that the Italian election was a breakup election called following the government crisis and the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi. I have. .

However, gaps in Meta’s electoral integrity information hub regarding the measures it is taking to protect Italy’s general election from disinformation suggest limits to transparency in this important area. .

The Italian parliament was dissolved on July 21st. The president called for new electionsSo Meta, a company with a market capitalization in the hundreds of billions of dollars, took two months to upload details of the election integrity measures it has in place in the country to the relevant hubs on its website. It doesn’t seem to be uploaded.I did

We reached out to Meta yesterday to ask what they were doing in Italy to keep elections from being interfered with, but the company has not responded as of this writing.

Of course, we have to comply with the Italian watchdog’s request for information. We asked regulators.

of guarantor have identified tech giants operating in their own turf despite not being the lead supervisor of such companies under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) One Stop Shop (OSS) mechanism. It remains an active privacy watchdog to crack down on. Otherwise, it led to bottlenecks regarding GDPR enforcement. However, this regulation does provide some leeway for her DPAs involved to act on their turf on pressing issues without submitting to her OSS.

The Italian watchdog’s urgent request for information to Meta yesterday follows a number of other aggressive interventions in recent years. A warning to TikTok this summer Controversial privacy policy switch (this is TikTok immediately “paused”); Warning to WhatsApp in January 2021 Another controversial privacy policy and T&C update (while stemming from wider complaints, WhatsApp Later that year, it was fined $267 million for GDPR transparency violations); and Warning to TikTok about underage usersalso in January 2021 (TikTok is Deleted over 500,000 accounts (Couldn’t verify that it wasn’t a child’s and wasn’t involved in other measures).

A comprehensive answer to the question of whether the GDPR is working to regulate Big Tech therefore requires a broader perspective than piling up fines or amending the final GDPR enforcement decision. is.

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