Summit for Democracy in South Korea tackles digital disinformation

The conference aims to address democratic backsliding and erosion of rights and freedoms, focusing on digital threats and the role of technology in supporting democratic values.

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol highlighted the dangers of fake news and disinformation fueled by AI and digital technology during the Summit for Democracy, which convened senior officials from various countries, including Britain, the EU, and the United States. Yoon emphasised the importance of nations sharing experiences and insights to leverage technology to advance democracy, addressing the significant challenge posed by technological disparities among countries, which hinder economic progress and democratic development.

The Summit for Democracy, hosted by South Korea, marks the third iteration of the conference initiated by US President Joe Biden to address democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms. Key discussions at the three-day event revolve around digital threats to democracy and the potential of technology to uphold democratic values and universal human rights.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the importance of technology in supporting democratic norms, particularly in the face of authoritarian regimes exploiting technology to undermine democracy and human rights. Blinken highlighted the collaborative efforts of like-minded governments and citizens in safeguarding free and fair elections, emphasising that protecting democracy requires collective action.

The summit coincided with North Korea’s launch of short-range ballistic missiles and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s victory in a presidential election, sparking criticism from the White House over concerns about the fairness of the election process.

British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden highlighted the multifaceted threats facing democracy, including cyberattacks, the spread of falsehoods by populists, and the staging of sham elections by autocratic regimes. Additionally, Blinken announced the release of guidance for tech companies to prevent attacks on human rights defenders online, signalling a proactive approach to protecting fundamental rights in the digital sphere.