AlgorithmWatch proposals on mitigating election risks for online platforms

Despite hopes that the Digital Services Act could protect against online risks during upcoming elections, this looks increasingly unlikely due to delays and issues in implementation. The EU Commission has sought input on how to mitigate election risks, and AlgorithmWatch has responded.

"Voting" by justgrimes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Oliver Marsh
Project Lead "Auditing Algorithms for Systemic Risks"
Clara Helming
Senior Advocacy & Policy Manager

AlgorithmWatch has responded to the European Commission's draft Guidelines for online platforms on mitigating risks in elections. This document comes in the context of upcoming elections, including for the European Parliament.  However the Digital Services Act (DSA) is unlikely to be fully effective, with delays in data access powers and no transparency or guidelines on "systemic risk" assessments. This greatly limits the hoped-for ability of the DSA to help find and mitigate risks including increased polarisation, information warfare from hostile actors, and misinformation from AI chatbots.  

These guidelines could provide a - weakened, but useful - alternative to a fully implemented DSA.  Assessing and mitigating online risks is a complex and fast-moving field. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and decisions cannot be left to platforms alone - they need to build on independent expertise and sharing of information. Our response therefore proposed the following: