Google’s Jigsaw offers free anti-meddling tools ahead of EU elections

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Google is giving political organisations in Europe free access to tools that tackle online attacks and disruption ahead of upcoming EU elections in May.

The company’s cybersecurity incubator Jigsaw is making its Project Shield system available to campaigns and candidates, amid fears of election meddling.

From today, the defence technology is being rolled out to European political organisations after previously only being available to news organisations and human rights groups.

Project Shield is able to protect websites from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, a malicious disruption technique that floods a website with fake visitors in an attempt to knock it offline, making it hard for real users to access the service.

The technology on offer claims to be able to detect malicious attempts and rejects the traffic.

“Cyberattacks against democratic institutions are on the rise and have steadily increased in intensity over the past few years,” said Scott Carpenter, director of policy and international engagement at Jigsaw.

“With citizens across Europe heading to the polls in May, defending these organisations from digital attacks has become a pressing concern.

“Today we’re announcing the expansion of Project Shield to European political organisations — extending free protection to campaigns and candidates ahead of the EU parliamentary elections in May 2019.”

European Parliament election
The European Parliament election is due to start on May 23 (Victoria Jones/PA)

In recent years, a number of DDoS attacks have been employed to disrupt the democratic process, including the Czech Republic parliamentary elections in October 2017.

Google’s move comes after Facebook announced its own tools for political advert transparency, already available in the UK, would be rolled out across Europe for issues related to European Parliament elections.

Speaking to the media on Monday, former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg said that an “election integrity centre” would be opened in Dublin as a hub for spotting hate speech, misinformation and attempted election interference on the site ahead of the polls.

Chris Price