Attempts at influencing or distorting elections in the United States and other countries, including some European Union Member States, have drawn attention to what is commonly referred to as ‘fake news’, or false news posing as factual stories. Although the phenomenon of generating misleading news stories is at least as old as the printing press, the growth of social media has led to a very significant proliferation of this phenomenon. Some outlets use deceitful headlines and content to boost readership, in a search for higher advertising revenue. Other sources, often sponsored by certain state actors, are accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for entirely political ends. In March 2018, the European Commission published the Final Report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation, which proposes ways to combat the phenomenon. In April a Commission communication followed, entitled ‘Tackling online disinformation: a European Approach.’
On 13 September 2017, the Commission adopted a cybersecurity package with new initiatives to further improve EU cyber resilience, deterrence and defence. As part of these, the Commission tabled a legislative proposal to strengthen the European Union Agency for Network Information Security (ENISA). Following the adoption of the Network Information Security Directive in 2016, ENISA is expected to play a broader role in the EU’s cybersecurity landscape but is constrained by its current mandate and resources. The Commission has presented an ambitious reform proposal, including a permanent mandate for the agency, to ensure that ENISA can not only provide expert advice, as has been the case until now, but can also perform operational tasks. The proposal also envisages the creation of the first voluntary EU cybersecurity certification framework for ICT products, where ENISA will also play an important role. Within the European Parliament, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee adopted its report on the proposal in July, together with the decision to start negotiations with the Council. The first trilogue meeting is provisionally scheduled for 13 September, once Parliament approves the mandate during the September plenary session.
During the September 2018 plenary, the European Parliament is expected to vote on a legislative proposal creating the Single Digital Gateway. The aim is to establish a single digital entry point for EU citizens and businesses, giving access to a host of information, offering total and non-discriminatory use of online procedures, and facilitating the work of services providing assistance upon request.
A European Commission proposal to adapt EU copyright law to the digital environment has sharply divided stakeholders, academics and MEPs. Parliament is now preparing to debate and vote on the JURI committee’s report on the proposed revised copyright directive, during the September plenary session.