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JCNSS questions the Oversight Board for Meta, Ofcom, the Electoral Commission and other experts on ‘Defending Democracy’ as UK approaches General Election

14 March 2024

In 2021 the UK’s Integrated Review stated that protecting democracy was the “first duty of any Government” and reiterated this position last year, promising “new action” on defending democracy at home and abroad as it acknowledged that democratic resilience had come into focus as an “area of vulnerability for the UK”.

On Monday 18 March the JCNSS will open oral evidence in its inquiry into Defending Democracy with a lineup including Pamela San Martin of Meta’s Oversight Board (the company that owns Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram), the FT’s Martin Wolf, experts in artificial intelligence and foreign electoral interference, Ofcom and the Electoral Commission, to explore evolving threats to UK democracy and how these are being addressed.


At 4:15pm: 

  • Professor Rory Cormac, International Relations, University of Nottingham  
  • Pamela San Martin, Board Member, Meta’s Oversight Board   

At approximately 5pm: 

  • Dr Mhari Aitken, Ethics Fellow in the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute  
  • Martin Wolf CBE, Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times  
  • Jessica Zucker, Director of Online Safety Policy, Ofcom   

At approximately 5:45pm: 

  • Vijay Rangarajan, Chief Executive, Electoral Commission 
  • Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation and Digital Transformation, Electoral Commission   

There are expected to be over 70 national elections around the world this year, including in the UK and USA, and reports of foreign interference and the production of ‘deepfakes’ and other forms of disinformation and misinformation are proliferating daily. Some organisations have been developing new tools to help individuals understand who is targeting them politically online. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has said that the UK Government “is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general elections”, and that we can now “expect to see the integrity of our systems tested again”.   

The Committee will question the three expert panels on the risks from foreign interference, the role of emerging technologies and what role the media and independent bodies play in countering these challenges. It will also focus on risks to the election process itself and the Electoral Commission’s work to ensure the UK’s electoral integrity. The second panel will demonstrate to the Committee an example of a “deepfake” image and explain how deepfakes can be identified.

Further information

Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock