Saeima Criminalises attempts to influence election results with the help of deep-fake technologies

(09.05.2024.)

On Thursday, 9 May the Saeima adopted in the third reading amendments to the Criminal Law in order to criminalise attempts to influence the results of elections with the help of the so called “deep fake” technology and to ensure voters’ right to participate in fair and free elections.

According to the authors of the draft law, the right of voters to participate in fair and free elections is one of the fundamental values of democracy, while a fair and free legal framework of electoral campaigning is an essential precondition for the conduct of fair and free elections.

The amendments criminalise the production or dissemination of intentionally false discrediting information regarding a political organisation (party) or a union of political organisations (parties) or political organisations (parties), a candidate for a member of the Saeima, local government council or European Parliament using deep fake technology, if it has been done during the pre-election campaign period or on the election day.

Such a criminal offence may be punished with deprivation of liberty for a period of up to five years, temporary deprivation of liberty, probation supervision or community service.

The authors of the draft law emphasise that photo, video and audio materials created by deep fake technologies have become a part of pre-election campaigns. For example, content created by deep fake technologies aimed at undermining a candidate’s reputation has been found in the Argentine, Slovak and Polish pre-election campaigns, pointing out that a large number of potential voters admit that they are already unable to recognise the content generated by deep fake technologies.

The amendments establish criminal liability for the use of an automated data processing system in order to prevent persons from participating in elections, in proposing a law or a national referendum, in national referendums and in supporting the European Citizens’ Initiative. It will be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a period of up to five years, temporary deprivation of liberty or probation supervision.

The amendments will enter into force on the day following their promulgation.

 

Saeima Press Service

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