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Speech by Carl-Oskar Bohlin at the Summit for Democracy 2024


Speech by Minister for Civil Defence Carl-Oskar Bohlin at the Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea, 18 March 2024.

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First of all, let me thank our host, Republic of Korea, for organizing this third Summit for Democracy. 

This forum is highly needed, against the background of the numerous challenges facing all our democracies.

The control and development of new technology has geopolitical dimensions and affects national and global security. 

We know authoritarian regimes use foreign information manipulation and interference, including disinformation, to destabilize our democratic societies. 

We need to proactively tackle this challenge, and I would like to highlight some ideas as well as some concrete measures that Sweden has taken:

Disinformation thrives on uncertainty. 

It is essential that we are loud and clear in our own messages. 

We must repeat, reiterate, and explain the values and policies we stand for. 

We believe that proactive strategic communication is one of the most effective ways to build resilience against foreign information manipulation and interference. 

The Swedish Psychological Defence Agency was established in 2022 and has since then been dedicated to counter disinformation and strengthen the population’s ability to detect and resist foreign malign information influence and disinformation. 

In December 2023, the Swedish government appointed an AI Commission, with the purpose to enhance Sweden’s capabilities in AI. The AI Commission will put forward proposals on how to promote a competitive, secure, and ethical AI development and use of AI in Sweden.  How to reap the benefits of emerging technologies is a top priority for our government. 

At the EU level, new legislation has been implemented and more is coming to address issues related to the malicious use of new technologies. 

This includes the EU AI Act that will address the most common risks associated with AI, as well as the EU Digital Services Act that addresses the responsibilities of online platforms regarding disinformation. 

Colleagues, new technologies enable us to communicate, to access information, and to engage in democratic processes. 

An open and enlightened global conversation on how we can harness new technologies for the benefit of everyone is needed, while mitigating the risks. Our aim must be to ensure that digital technologies work for the promotion of human rights, freedom and democracy – not against it.