Kofi Annan announces initiative tackling new technologies’ threats to democracy

By Kofi Annan Foundation

Under the auspices of the Kofi Annan Foundation, a new initiative intends to convene thought- and business leaders from the world of new technologies together with political leaders, Kofi Annan announced at the Munich Security Conference today.

The commission will examine how states, businesses, and citizens may exploit the awesome possibilities of new technologies to serve our democracies while mitigating the risks.

“The advent of the internet and social media were once hailed as democratic forces connecting people, promoting dialogue and access to information”, Mr Annan said.

Recent headlines about social media’s role in interference in elections and the surveillance capabilities inherent to new technologies have made it clear that the threats to the core of democracy are as serious as the opportunities are great.

“If the most technically advanced countries cannot protect the integrity of the electoral process, one can only imagine the challenges facing countries with less technological know-how”, Kofi Annan said. “In the absence of facts and data, the mere possibility of manipulation fuels conspiracy theories”.

The commission will be expected to produce a report providing guidelines enabling governments, tech leaders and citizens to deal with the challenges at hand. It builds on the work of the 2012 report entitled Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide, produced by the Kofi Annan-chaired Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security.

The Kofi Annan Foundation will share updated information regarding the name and composition of the commission over the coming months.

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