Our Takes

Established democracies have clung to outdated practices as backsliding and cultural changes have accelerated. Some democracies, however, have adopted innovative reforms that should serve as a model for their counterparts, GMF’s Senior Vice President of Democracy Laura Thornton writes in a new report.

Russian state-backed content is not limited to websites like RT, but is increasingly appearing on lesser-known websites with no apparent affiliation with the Russian government, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer and Investigative Data and Research Analyst Peter Benzoni write in a report analyzing search services in the United Kingdom.

Without indicating whether she will seek another term, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took a distinctly political tone as she outlined her approach to competition with China, artificial intelligence, and EU expansion, Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas and Research Analyst Etienne Soula write for ASD. 

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News and Commentary

Poland to stop sending weapons to Ukraine amid trade dispute: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Poland will cease sending weapons they have not yet promised to Ukraine shortly after Kyiv filed lawsuits against Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia at the World Trade Organization for instituting bans on Ukrainian grain imports over domestic market concerns. Managing Director David Salvo told the Dispatch, “With elections in Poland forthcoming next month, Prime Minister Morawiecki’s announcement is clearly motivated by electoral considerations. On top of the economic consequences of importing grain from Ukraine, there are resentments towards Ukrainian refugees in Polish society. And while that doesn’t change Poles’ overall support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, Poland’s populist ruling party actually faces a challenge from its right flank on these very issues. More telling will be Poland’s posture after the elections, should the ruling PiS party secure another majority.”

UK passes sweeping online safety bill: On Tuesday, the United Kingdom passed an ambitious but controversial internet safety law that requires social media companies to proactively screen for and take down illegal content. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar said, “This bill gives UK government regulators the power to mandate mass surveillance if those regulators think the situation warrants it and the scanning technology is safe. The wrinkle is that there is no technology that can preserve privacy while searching through everyone’s messages, photos, and files for illegal content. It’s chasing an illicit needle in a haystack, where the haystack is every citizen’s private life. UK regulators should publicly commit to not using the surveillance powers this bill gives them. Part of keeping the internet safe is making sure people can safely express themselves online.” 

Germany, Portugal to phase out Huawei components: Germany is readying new restrictions on components from Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE in core parts of the country’s telecommunications network; at the same time, Portugal is working with operators to phase out Huawei equipment from their 5G networks. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the German 5G debate has been the largest and longest-running China technology saga of the transatlantic relationship. This week’s moves in both Germany and Portugal reflect a more clear-eyed view of autocratic tech threats and the steps that democracies need to take to build resilience to them. The Huawei 5G question has been particularly thorny because of decades of failure to invest in our internet and telecommunications infrastructure. Looking forward, democratic allies in Europe and the Americas need to come together to ensure that we don’t get caught in this position on any other critical technology—including by investing in the analytical infrastructure needed to anticipate ‘democratic market failures’ like this one.”

In Case You Missed It

  • The EU risks becoming dependent on China for lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells by 2030 in the same way it was dependent on Russian energy prior to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, an internal EU document warned.
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced the establishment of a chief artificial intelligence officer position that will advise department leadership on AI-related issues.
  • France will provide enhanced cash incentives to customers to help them purchase French and European electric vehicles as of January 2024, a week after the European Commission promised an inquiry into Chinese subsidies for their electric car industry.
  • The Irish Data Protection Commission issued a €345 million fine to TikTok for failing to protect children’s privacy on the platform.
  • A China-linked hacker group infiltrated 29 United States and EU-based organizations’ offices in Africa since the start of last year by tricking staff into plugging malware-infected USB drives into their work computers, according to researchers at cybersecurity firm Mandiant.

ASD in the News

Meta Report Highlights Lack of Cross-Platform Coordination on Information Operations. Research Analyst Joseph Bodnar writes for ASD

The West ‘special diplomatic operation’. Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas in Euractiv Global Europe Brief

Quote of the Week

“For the first time in modern history, we have the chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked.”

—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19.


The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.