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In March 2019, Privacy International submitted a response to a consultation on Disinformation in Electoral Contexts, led by the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights together with the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO) and the Department of International Law (DIL) of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
In our submission we highlighted the importance of minmising data exploitation in the electoral context; actions and actors involved; and key legal frameworks to consider - namely data protection and electoral law.
Civil Society in Latin America, including some of Privacy International's partners, also submitted to this consultation. Among other matters raised in their submission, they also highlighted the need to strengthen data protection and electoral laws in the region.
Expert Group on disinformation in electoral contexts
Following the consultation, Privacy International was invited by the Special Rapporteur to form part of a group of international experts . The group met in Mexico City from the 23 - 24 of April 2019, to analyse topics related to the causes, impacts and responses to the phenomenon of disinformation and elections in the region, with the objective of reaching conclusions and recommendations, and contributing to the elaboration of a "practical guideline of recommendations for guaranteeing freedom of expression and access to information from a variety of Internet sources during electoral processes without improper interference" (as mandated by the OAS general assembly AG / RES. 2928).
Privacy International is grateful for this opportunity, given the important data and privacy implications of this discussion. As we have highlighted, to consider the issue of ‘disinformation in electoral contexts’ it is essential to look at the use of data. If we think of disinformation as the ‘front end’, then we recognise that data is the ‘back end’ that feeds into and facilitates many of the practices that raise concerns.