Several federal offices in Switzerland are investigating whether online manipulation could affect upcoming elections, says a newspaper report. The Federal Office of Communicationsexternal link (OFCOM) has set up a government working group to look into the effects of artificial intelligence on the media and public opinion, writes the NZZ am Sonntag paper. This group was set up last September and is headed by the education and research ministry, spokesman Francis Meier told the paper. Last October Swiss intelligence chief Jean-Philippe Gaudin also warned that foreign actors could try to influence the next federal elections through online artificial intelligence, saying he would propose appropriate measures to the government.
Intelligence spokeswoman Isabelle Graber would not say if he has already done so, the NZZ am Sonntag continues. But she confirmed that the federal intelligence services and its partners responsible for security in Switzerland were “dealing with the issue of influencing operations, especially in connection with the federal elections of 2019”. Influencing operations, in the jargon of the secret service, are operations such as social bots to manipulate public opinion, the paper explains.
And who does the Swiss secret service think could be capable of such operations? Its latest situation report points particularly at Russia.