#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

The current coronavirus crisis has exposed important cleavages in our society. Ubiquitous reports about the "Corona infodemic" and broader public calls for citizens to be aware of disinformation have alerted people about a threat that goes beyond the current pandemic: How resilient are todays’ democracies against disinformation campaigns and foreign interference in democratic processes? A question even more relevant in the digital age of today where (dis)information travels faster than ever before.

To address these topic, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation continues the efforts of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity to raise public awareness about the risks of foreign election meddling.

We invite national and international policy-makers, experts and representatives of tech companies to enter the discussion on how to strengthen the integrity of our democracies in times of elections, virus crisis and disinformation campaigns.

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For any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

How to put the disinformation genie back in the bottle - lessons learned from the 2020 elections in Taiwan, Georgia and the USA

On November 30th, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in partnership with the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, DoublethinkLab and the US Embassy in Denmark hosted an event.

2020 has seen millions of voters headed to the polls in democracies around the globe.  What new patterns of election interference and disinformation were discernable and have new foreign meddlers being spotted on the scene?

In Asia, China has demonstrated its increasing capabilities and willingness to interfere in its neighborhood, starting with Taiwan’s Presidential elections in January 2020. In Europe, Russia’s influence in the Georgian elections in October was permanently present, but so was civil society responses to curb both foreign and domestic disinformation. US authorities and watchdog institutions have identified plenty of foreign state-actors like Russia, China or Iran trying to manipulate the public discourse in the run-up to the Presidential elections.

The Alliance of Democracies Foundation has been actively engaged in all three elections in Taiwan, Georgia and the United States this year. We are delighted to have a group of experts discuss these questions from their regional perspectives and provide a learning space on best practices from Asia, Europe and North America on curbing disinformation around elections.

Speakers:

  • Poyu Tseng, Researchers, Doublethink Lab (DTL)
  • Min Hsuan Wu “Ttcat”, Co-founder and CEO, Doublethink Lab (DTL)
  • Michael Chertoff, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, The Chertoff Group, Co-Chair, Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2005 – 2009)
  • Ketty W. Chen, Vice-President, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
  • Nino Rizhamadze, Head of Social Media Monitoring Project, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Moderator: Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation

Watch the event here

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

Resilience against Election Interference- Parliamentary Elections in Georgia 2020

On October 28th, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation and Microsoft's Defending Democracy Program hosted an event discussing the resilience against election interference ahead of the Parliamentary elections in Georgia. Over recent years, foreign interference – including from Russian state and non-state actors - in democratic elections and political processes of other countries has become a concern for democracies worldwide. In Russia’s immediate neighborhood, however, this phenomenon is not new. In Georgia, in addition to military action, the Kremlin has been waging information warfare, targeting democratic processes and the citizens that participate in them.

On October 31, Georgia is going to the polls, and it is anticipated to be a pivotal parliamentary election. However, democratic elections present prominent opportunities for bad actors to undermine the trust and belief of a country’s people in their state institutions. This exclusive session invited representatives of Georgia's government and parliament, international tech companies, local and international civil society groups and election management organizations to asses and discuss election resilience on the eve of the Georgian election.
The session featured opening remarks by Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation and moderated by Mariam Chikhaldze, Election Integrity Fellow in Georgia, Alliance of Democracies Foundation.
The session featured experts including:
- Keti Maisuradze, Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
- Nino Rizhamadze, Head of Social Media Monitoring Project, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
- Dave Leichtman, Director, Defending Democracy Program, Microsoft Digital Diplomacy

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

China’s Pressure on Democracies and How to Respond – Transatlantic Perspectives

The Chinese regime has shown increasing capacity not just to trample on its own citizens’ rights but also to intervene in established democracies. The pandemic has underlined how China airbrushes facts and tries to yield the world to its distorted narratives. In the US, the Trump-administration has hardened its policy on China with Secretary Pompeo in the lead on calling out the Chinese Communist Party and on both sides of the aisle in Congress and in the general public, perceptions of China have dimmed. In Canada, attitudes are changing too. Canada’s Foreign Minister top priority is the immediate release of two Canadian citizens who were arbitrarily detained by China. This is seen as an affront not only to the rights of the individuals but to all liberal democracies and the values they represent. In Denmark, the Chinese embassy put pressure unsuccessfully for a statue outside Parliament supporting Hong Kong’s demonstrators to be removed and putting pressure on Danish' students academic freedom of expression. There is an urgent need for joined transatlantic responses to such value challenges from China. Recently, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China announced two Danish co-chairs, Katarina Ammitzbøll and Uffe Elbæk and two members, Karsten Hønge and Naser Khader from across the Danish political spectrum. This virtual discussion was an opportunity to bring together representatives from US, Canada and Europe for a transatlantic discussion to discuss strategies in different countries on how to defend democracy and liberal values against authoritarian encroachment.

The event hosted experts including:
• Michael J. Abramowitz, President, Freedom House
• Katarina Ammitzbøll, Member of the Folketing for the Conservative Party
• Uffe Elbæk, Member of the Folketing and former Minister of Culture and a Member of the Independent Greens
• Garnett Genuis, Member of the Canadian Parliament, Canada’s Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism and Canada-China relations
Moderator:
• Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation

Watch the full session here

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

"What you see is what you trust? - The threat of disinformation and synthetic media to democracy"

On June 4, 2020, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in cooperation with Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program discussed what threat disinformation and synthetic media – so-called deepfakes - pose to our democracies today and in the future.

The digitalization of society has brought plenty of new opportunities, but also poses a number of challenges to our democracies. Citizens of today are constantly connected, and the introduction of social media platforms has changed the way in which information and news are produced, spread and consumed. While these developments have enabled more people to participate in the political debate, democratized the supply of information and led to positive grassroots engagement, it also created substantial loopholes, which have allowed foreign actors to manipulate and exploit these new communication ecosystem until today. 

Speakers:
- Laura Rosenberger, Director of The Alliance for Securing Democracy and Senior Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Lutz Güllner, Head of StratCom Unit, European External Action Service
- Meredith Berger, Senior Manager, Defending Democracy, Microsoft

Moderator:
-Marietje Schaake, Member of the Transatlantic Commission Election Integrity (TCEI), International Policy Director of the Cyber Policy Center and International Policy Fellow at the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, Stanford University, President of the CyberPeace Institute, Member of the European Parliament (2009-2019)

Watch the full discussion here

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

How Can Democracies Deal with China?- US and European perspectives

On May 28, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in cooperation with the US Embassy Copenhagen, hosted distinguished China-expert, Michael Pillsbury from the Hudson Institute. President Trump has named him a ‘leading authority on China’ and is a regular commentator on Fox News. Pillsbury has authored the book 'The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower'. Pillsbury will be in conversation with key Danish policy-makers  and China-experts on the direction of US and European-China policy during the time of a global pandemic.

China and the US have entered a period of great power competition already impacting military and technology affairs. The pandemic reinforces that. Could COVID-19 lead to the US decoupling medical supplies and supply chains from China? Meanwhile, China is propagating an authoritarian response to the pandemic as efficient and superior while remaining opaque on the beginning of the virus. How to deal with China for democracies around the world has become an increasingly urgent question.

Speakers:
- Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow & Director for Chinese Strategy, Hudson Institute
- Kristian Jensen, Member of the Folketing, The Liberal Party and Former Danish Minister or Foreign Affairs and Finance
-Camilla Tenna Nørup Sørensen, Researcher, Danish Defense Academy

Moderator:
-Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation

Watch the full discussion here

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

"What you see is what you trust? - How educational initiatives can boost media literacy and fight disinformation"

On May 20th, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in cooperation with Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program launched it's second webinar part of a 3-part webinar series on "What you see is what you trust?" - How educational initiatives can boost media literacy and fight disinformation.

There is no doubt that the spread of disinformation and digitally manipulated content poses challenging questions for our democracies, and the use of education to raise awareness among citizens is an important way to mitigate the negative effects. Social media and informal education could be used as an effective method in increasing media literacy or media competence about election interference and the most recent type of synthetic media – deepfakes. Such educational initiatives might not alone solve the challenge of disinformation and deepfakes, but can potentially help in reaching a broader audience of key players who will learn and share knowledge in their networks.

Introduction:
-Ora D. Tanner, Non-resident TCEI fellow, Alliance of Democracies Foundation
Speakers:
Sam Gregory, Program Director, WITNESS
- Anna-Sophie Harling, Managing Director for Europe, NewsGuard
-Jevin West, Associate Professor in the Information School, University of Washington
Moderator:
-Jeanne Meserve, TCEI member and former CNN and ABC journalist

 

Watch the full discussion

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

"What you see is what you trust? - Counter approaches of tech companies to curb deepfakes"

On May 13th, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in cooperation with Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program launched it's first webinar part of a 3-part webinar series on "What you see is what you trust?" to discuss what threat disinformation and synthetic media – so-called deepfakes - pose to our democracies today and in the future.

The debate about regulating social media platforms to mitigate the efforts of coordinated disinformation campaigns is more relevant than ever in light of the upcoming US presidential election. With many governments being slow in their initial response to digital election interference, the perhaps most comprehensive efforts to stop the spreading of disinformation to date has been taken by social media platforms themselves. Although self-defined restrictions differ by design and target, there is no doubt these voluntary restrictions on content imposed by social media platforms play an important role in mitigating the spread of disinformation.

Speakers:
-Hany Farid, Professor for Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley
-Erica Greene, Non-resident Election Integrity Fellow, Alliance of Democracies Foundation
-Ashish Jaiman,Director Of Technology Operations, Microsoft

Moderator:
-Eileen Donahoe, TCEI and Executive Director, Global Digital Policy Incubator

Watch the full discussion

Report

Latest report on Disinformation, Deepfakes & Democracy

The digitalization of society has brought plenty of new opportunities, but also poses a number of questions to our democracies. While it has enabled more people to participate in the political debate, democratized the supply of information and led to positive grassroot engagement, it has also created substantial loopholes which has allowed foreign actors to manipulate and exploit the new communications ecosystem up until today. Ever since the US presidential elections in 2016, democratic governments, social media platforms and academics around the globe have discussed how to best mitigate these negative effects to democracies in the digital age.

Our new report Disinformation, Deepfakes & Democracy, part of the collaboration with Microsoft, explores the issue by providing an in-depth explanation of how and why new information technologies challenges our democracies. Author and research fellow Christoffer Waldemarsson addresses the question of "What can be done to mitigate the effects of disinformation campaigns?" by mapping out the European response to digital election interference and the voluntary measures taken by social media platforms, as well as providing recommendations for governments or policymakers. The report also explain how deepfakes, a way to digitally fabricate video and audio of for example prominent politicians, can put our free and democratic elections in danger.

Read more

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

Sharing Taiwan’s Experience with Handling Coronavirus: A keynote talk with Digital Minister Audrey Tang

The Alliance of Democracies held the second edition of the #DefendDemocracy virtual series and called upon fellow democracies to learn from Taiwan’s experiences with handling coronavirus. For this, we were joined by Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang, who has a background with Taiwan’s vibrant civic tech community and spoke about Taiwan’s use of tech and an engaged citizenry (#RepublicOfCitizens) to curb the spread of the disease as an inspiration for other countries. The discussion was moderated by Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation.

Watch the full discussion

#DefendDemocracy Virtual Series

How democracies versus autocracies are handling COVID-19

The Alliance of Democracies in partnership with The Synergia Foundation kicked off the first edition of the #DefendDemocracy virtual series that gathered an expert panel from the US, India and Europe. The group discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on democracies especially with the authoritarian temptation on display internally and externally from China as they tout their approach as the most efficient during this unprecedented crisis. Experts included: Jonas Parello-Plesner, Executive Director, Alliance of Democracies Foundation, Tobby Simon, Founder and President, Synergia Foundation, and Julie Smith, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Asia Program, The German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Watch the full discussion