At the inaugural Artificial Information safety summit hosted at Bletchley Park this week, global leaders were tasked with considering the risks posed by this rapidly advancing technology and how nation states can address challenges that cross national borders.

But with national elections happening in the UK, US, and Europe next year, the threat to democracy from the power of AI technology to accelerate the production and dissemination of mis and disinformation is real.

More than ever, we need trusted sources of information such as The Herald to counteract the onslaught of false information and enable us make sense of today's complex world.

Next year’s UK general election will see 650 constituencies elect an MP. Six hundred and fifty individual elections that could be influenced by AI-generated false information.

A free press, holding power to account and asking the awkward questions of powerful people is fundamental to our democracy. AI has the opportunity to enhance, or destroy, this mission.

As a regulatory framework is developed, it is critical that governments and regulators understand the importance of protecting our media sector from the harmful effects of this technology. AI cannot be allowed to use news publishers’ content in any way without their express consent.

This means developing robust tools enabling publishers to fully protect their stories – the fuel that powers their businesses and enables them to invest further in journalism – from being exploited by third parties.

Otherwise, the exploitation of UK content creators by powerful tech companies will accelerate dramatically, causing untold damage to our creative economy.

Legislation is making its way through Westminster to address the overweening dominance of the tech platforms. The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will give a new regulator – the Digital Markets Unit – the legal powers it needs to reset the balance, unlocking the full potential of the UK digital marketplace – and massively benefitting consumers.

It is vital for the success of the new regime that nothing is done to weaken the Bill as it passes through Parliament. The judicial review appeals standard – which has been carefully calibrated to make the regime as effective as possible – must be maintained.

This week, the industry comes together for the annual Journalism Matters campaign to celebrate the vital importance of trusted news and information to our society. In an increasingly uncertain and unstable world, the need for trusted sources of information has never been greater. Whether local or national or international, news media plays a critical role in keeping communities informed and campaigning on issues that affect people’s day to day lives.

Readers are at the heart of The Herald, with journalists doing the detailed and diligent work to analyse every story to expose the truth and present the facts to our audiences.

To continue that work, it is imperative that the UK Government upholds its commitment to repealing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 – a commitment made in the Conservative manifestos in 2017 and 2019. The NMA has welcomed provisions in the Media Bill – which we hope will be confirmed the King’s Speech next week – to repeal this pernicious piece of legislation. The Bill enjoys cross party support and should be progressed quickly.

Owen Meredith, of News Media Association, which organises Journalism Matters