Report on NORDIS’ activities in light of the recommendations of the Nordic Think Tank for Tech and Democracy

University of Helsinki and Aarhus University release joint report on NORDIS research, fact-checking, and literacy activities.

The text below is the introduction to the report. You can read the full report here.

The Nordic countries share similar cultures and long-standing democratic values that
provide an opportunity for strengthening our democracies even when they take increasingly
place online. With this premise, the Nordic Think Tank for Tech and Democracy, set up by
the Nordic Council of Ministers, met from April 2022 through April 2023 to discuss the
effects of global platform power and the related responses needed to support the Nordic

One of the key goals of the Think Tank was to consider the new Digital Services Act (DSA) of
the European Union and extend its measures for the Nordic context. Also, the proposed
European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), focusing on freedom of expression and independent
media in national media systems, has inspired the cohort’s work. The Think Tank came up
with the following Nordic visions and recommendations to protect and strengthen the
democratic debate in the age of Big Tech:

1. We want the Nordic countries to be a united tech-democratic region
1A. Establish a Nordic Centre for Tech and Democracy to support the enforcement
of European tech regulation, share experiences, and develop new policies

2. We want the Nordic countries to have thriving and digitally literate citizens
2A. Protect the well-being and safety of children and youth online and push for more
general control for citizens
2B. Establish an online hub for knowledge exchange on digital literacy

3. We want the Nordic countries to have access to diverse and credible digital
platforms and communities

3A. Support the volunteers who facilitate online communities where democratic
debate unfolds
3B. Promote the innovation and implementation of technology that supports open
digital public debate to create alternatives to large online platforms

4. We want the Nordic countries to have open and informed public debates
4A. Give public service media a strong digital mandate for online presence, content
creation, and development of platforms for democratic debate online
4B. Step up support for independent fact-checkers
4C. Push for better content moderation in the Nordics
4D. Initiate a Nordic task force to oppose the risks to democracy from disinformation
generated by artificial intelligence

We want the Nordic countries to have vigilant and well-informed oversight of Big
Tech platforms

5A. Support access to platform data and algorithms for independent researchers
5B. Commission a biennial report on the state of Nordic digital democracies

In this report, we reflect on the activities of NORDIS against these five Nordic visions
and related proposed actions.
The purpose is to frame the fact-checking activities and
research findings of NORDIS to correspond to the policy discussions around the Think Tank
recommendations and thus support Nordic policy-making activities. It should be noted that
NORDIS is, first and foremost, an EDMO hub that designed its activities two years before
the work of the Think Tank. At the same time, the work of NORDIS has, in part, informed the
recommendations, given the membership of Anja Bechmann (NORDIS PI, Aarhus University)
and Minna Horowitz (NORDIS researcher-member, University of Helsinki) in the Think Tank.
In the following, different activities of NORDIS (September 2021-November 2023) are
depicted concerning the Nordic recommendations. The focus is on how they support or
further inform the recommended actions and address EU-level policy measures, such as
DSA and EMFA, in the Nordic “digital media welfare states.” This reporting is not only to
familiarise the Recommendations for the EDMO and the wider EU community involved in
policy work around platformisation and disinformation. This report also seeks to inform
national policy-relevant actors, including Ministries and other organizations that have
supported the project from the start.

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