Session 6: Political campaigns and elections
Political campaigns and elections: why is data protection so crucial?
3 July (Friday)
4.10pm-5.10pm Political campaigns
- Colin BENNETT, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, B.C. Canada, Council of Europe expert
- Rik DAEMS, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
- Lucy PURDON, Acting Policy Director, Privacy International
- Nevena RUZIC, Bureau Member of the Committee of Convention 108 for Serbia
See full programme on the main page
Visit the dedicated webpage on Data Protection Views from Strasbourg in Visio (1-3 July) and see other themes:
Session 1: How to ensure that countries that commit to Convention 108+ comply with its provisions? Why do we need a follow-up and evaluation mechanism, and which one?
Session 2: How do we address the latest challenges posed by profiling in an AI era?
Session 3: What does the right to data protection imply in an educational setting? What schools have to do, and what they should stop doing?
Session 4: Are digital identity programmes being implemented with privacy by design?
Session 5: Mirror of our souls: learning Cicero’s lessons and addressing facial recognition risks
Session 6: Political campaigns and elections: why is data protection so crucial?
Main question: How free is voters’ choice when they are under the influence of new data processing and analytical techniques (e.g. micro-targeting, voter profiling, political influence, political surveillance)? How fair are elections if the scope of campaigns depends of the costs of algorithms that candidates can or not afford and if votes are motivated by emotional reactions?
The panel discusses the new realities of recent and current electoral campaigning, where “vote for me” has become “don’t vote for him/her” and where many new campaigning strategies are offering opportunities increasingly and easily available online, when it is forbidden by law offline. Political communication has become disconnected from political agendas, manifestos and programmes, while concentrating primarily on eliciting emotions. In the context of the Covid-19 global pandemic, digital campaigning is likely to grow, making political parties barely distinguishable from marketing companies. In that context, personal data are increasingly necessary and resorted to as the basis of political campaigning but the way this operates, how and which data are collected, processed and on which basis remains unclear and, probably voluntarily blurred. Even if privacy is highly contextual and politicians do not consider themselves subject to DPAs as “their” regulators, these authorities have a real role for more much needed transparency. This can be achieved by more regulatory actions.
Conclusions: the Committee of Convention 108 carries a huge potential for discussing the appropriate recommendations in this area on the basis of Convention 108+ and with a global approach. Inputs from other Council of Europe institutions, bodies (e.g. the Parliamentary Assembly and the Venice Commission) and committees would significantly benefit to such an endeavour. In any case, privacy should remain a human right protected by democracies and, in turn, democracy should not compromise individuals’ privacy. This could be guaranteed by a new normative instrument.
Q/A session covers: the role and possibilities of Council of Europe organs and bodies to address these issues in standard setting work; how do domestic micro-targeting ecosystem operates; origin and ways of processing of data used by political parties; the availability of best practice guides