The Design 4 Democracy Coalition is a growing group of democracy and human rights organizations around the world that is committed to ensuring that the technology industry embraces democracy as a core design principle. Coming from a diverse collection of regions, political ideologies and backgrounds, the Coalition is united in a shared commitment that technology platforms and products should help build a more just and democratic world. The public square is increasingly digital. More than ever, political views and identities are formed online. By developing a forum for coordination and support within the democracy community on technology issues, and by creating an institutional channel for communication between the democracy community and the tech industry, the Design 4 Democracy Coalition is working to strengthen democracy in the digital age.

News and Events

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U.S. Targeting Russia's Online Energy Grid

New legal authority that allows for “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, is being utilized to place potentially crippling malware inside Russia’s electric grid, the New York Times reports. This “aggressive” posture is in response to Russia inserting malware into parts of America’s energy infrastructure. Such repositioning runs the risk of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow and reopens the debate as to whether a nation’s power grid is a legitimate target for cyberattacks.

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Tweets That Chill: Analyzing Online Violence Against Women in Politics

D4D member NDI’s Gender, Women, and Democracy team undertook a unique study to explore the effect of gender-based violence, as expressed toward college-age, politically-active women on Twitter in three countries - Indonesia, Colombia, and Kenya. In these three countries, NDI worked with a number of women in politics, and civic technology and women’s rights organizations to examine the country-and context-specific challenges women face, as they engage in political discourse. The report finds that online violence against women in politics led to women pausing, decreasing, or completely stopping their Twitter activity. It also highlights the additional need for research to understand and mitigate the impact of violence against women in politics. NDI hopes these findings will be used to inform changes to social media platform policies and global legal and political frameworks.

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European Union Report on the Implementation of Action Plan Against Disinformation

In a new report, the European Union’s (EU) Commission and the High Representative provides an initial assessment of how the implementation of its Action Plan Against Disinformation and the Elections Package has fared. The report states that the EU strengthened its capabilities to detect, analyze, and expose disinformation; improved coordinated responses; implemented a self-regulatory code of practice on disinformation; improved societal resilience, and; has worked to protect the integrity of elections. It concludes that while there has been progress, more human and financial resources and a joint EU effort are needed to further protect our democratic processes and institutions.

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Lawmakers Seek More Information into U.S. Institutional Funding of Chinese Surveillance Technology Startups

U.S. lawmakers want a deeper investigation into the reported investment of two startups developing technology used for Chinese facial recognition surveillance by U.S. public pension funds, universities, and foundations. As BuzzFeed News initially reported, venture capital or private equity firms used funds, entrusted by US institutional investors, to invest in SenseTime and Megvii. The Chinese government is allegedly using technology developed by these companies to surveil its citizens, including in Xinjiang where Chinese authorities have detained Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in internment camps.