UK parliament’s House of Lords Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies is launching a public consultation on the impact of digital technologies on democracy. The committee says it is seeking evidence of the effect on political campaigning, the electoral process and the ‘understanding of the truth’.
Among the questions to be addressed are:
• Does the increasing use of encrypted messaging and private groups on social media platforms present a challenge to democracy? What are the positive and negative effects of anonymity on online political debate?
• Are people or organisations deliberately using social media to undermine trust in democracy? How can this be combatted?
• What steps can be taken to reduce the impact of misinformation online?
"We have already seen high profile controversies in recent elections with allegations of foreign state influence in both the US presidential election and our own Brexit referendum,” says Lord Puttnam, committee chair. “We also know political parties now spend more on online advertising than they do on newspaper ads or billboards. What will be the impact when political advertising can be tailored to each individual citizen, with nobody knowing what parties are saying to other voters?”