Budapest, Hungary – Former US President Barack Obama has described Hungary as an “authoritarian regime” alongside the likes of China, the Philippines and Brazil.
In a keynote address delivered last week at Stanford University,” the 44th president of the United States took aim at regimes around the world restricting the access to, consumption of and sharing of information in the digital sphere.
The one-day symposium on the topic of “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Information Realm” was co-hosted by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and the Obama Foundation.
During his hour-long speech, Obama looked at the challenges posed by the spread of disinformation, the growing use of deepfake technology powered by AI, as well as ways to regulate or mitigate the digital threats.
“This is an opportunity, it’s a chance that we should welcome for government to take on a big important problem and prove that democracy and innovation can coexist,” he said.
“Authorities regimes and strongmen around the world from China to Hungary, the Philippines, Brazil have learned to conscript social media platforms to turn their own populations against groups they don’t like,” Obama continued, “whether it’s ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, journalists, political opponents.”
The former US President ended his speech on a more positive note, praising the arrival of “a new generation of activists that seem to be ready to keep moving.”
Among these grassroots activists, Obama mentioned Sandor Lederer from Hungary, founder of K-Monitor, “a group that helps average citizens under how public money is spent and flags potential corruption.”
“The handwritten sign was a tool. TV’s a tool. The Internet is a tool. Social media is a tool”, he concluded. “At the end of the day, tools don’t control us. We control them, and we can remake them. It’s up to each of us to decide what we value, and then use the tools we’ve been given to advance those values.”