The Internet has been championed as an instrument to promote democracy, in part due to its open and decentralized nature that enables millions to organize and spread their views, including dissent. Over the past few years, however, many fear that the Internet is being “weaponized” by governments, foreign and domestic groups, and even by large tech companies, in ways that threaten democracy, particularly free and fair elections—which are the bedrock of democracy.* The Free Internet Project is undertaking a new initiative to analyze and address this problem, to provide people with objective analysis of and proposed solutions to the issues countries face in safeguarding elections from interference. To that end, the nonprofit The Free Internet Project announces the launching of Project Safeguarding Elections (PSE).
PSE has two main objectives:
1. To track, report, and analyze major incidents of and responses to election interference around the world on a dedicated blog or website. At least five types of issues will be covered:
- Fake news: the spread of disinformation and false information online to interfere with an election;
- Hacking of political candidates: the hacking of emails and communications of political parties and candidates;
- Hacking of voting machines: the hacking of voting machines and tabulation of results
- Fake results: the spread of false election results to undermine the true result; and
- Duties of corporations and governments: the roles and responsibilities (if any) of the law, governments, and companies to address these problems.
2. To convene experts from different relevant fields to provide opinion pieces and proposed best practices to address these issues around the world.
*See, e.g., Nicolas Weaver, Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here’s How They Did It, Wired, Nov. 13, 2013; Tim Berners-Lee, Tim Berner-Lee is fighting for the web’s future, and he wants you to join him, Quartz, March 12, 2018.