Our Take

Since the Biden administration invited leaders from some less-than-democratic countries to the Summit for Democracy, it must also ensure that opposition leaders, civil society activists, and journalists have a seat at the table, Director Laura Thornton argues in an ASD blog post

The Summit for Democracy offers a prime opportunity for the United States, Australia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Germany to commit to properly regulating and supervising enablers of corruption, Malign Finance Fellow Josh Rudolph writes in an ASD blog post

Groups that affiliate themselves with the German right-wing party Alternative for Deutschland are among the most active amplifiers of RT Deutsch content on Facebook, our latest analysis of German Election Dashboard data finds.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media last week focused on the following topics:

  • COP26: Russian diplomats amplified talking points from President Vladimir Putin’s virtual speech to the UN Climate Conference, while Moscow-linked media accused the West of hypocrisy and highlighted climate-related protests.
  • Ukraine: The spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused U.S. media of launching a “full-blown fresh fake campaign” after several independent outlets reported on unusual Russian military activity near the Ukrainian border.
  • Belarus crisis: Russian state media’s limited coverage of the Belarusian-manufactured migrant crisis echoed statements from both Belarusian and Polish officials. 

Chinese diplomats and state media last week focused on three main subjects:

  • Elon Musk: Elon Musk’s tweet about a classic Chinese poem, which alludes to humanity’s shared oneness, was the most shared piece of content by Chinese diplomats and state media last week.
  • COP26: Monitored Chinese accounts used the COP26 conference to extol Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change and to attack the West for not doing enough.
  • Taiwan: Chinese diplomats and state media reacted with predictable hostility to members of the European Parliament making an official trip to Taiwan.  

Iranian diplomats and state media last week focused on one main story: 

  • Oil tanker: Tehran-backed media covered disputed events surrounding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ seizure of a Vietnamese oil tanker, with some suggesting the United States had previously stolen the tanker. 

Read the full report here.

News and Commentary

U.S. charges, recovers funds from criminal hackers: On November 8, the U.S. Department of  Justice charged two suspected criminal hackers for their alleged involvement in highprofile cyber attacks carried out by the REvil ransomware gang. U.S. officials said that one hacker was arrested on the Poland-Ukraine border on October 8, while the U.S. government recovered $6.1 million in funds allegedly linked to ransom payments from the other. ASD Cybersecurity Fellow Maurice Turner said,  “Coordinated efforts by nearly 30 transatlantic and Asian partners scored a major win against ransomware gangs who have victimized U.S. critical infrastructure entities. Arrests, indictments, and seizures associated with the REvil and Polyanin criminal networks should cool the white-hot global ransomware marketplace, for now. Despite significant international pressure, it appears that Putin remains undeterred on providing a safe haven for cyber criminals in Russia.”

U.S. plans to roll out Build Back Better World: The Biden administration announced plans to launch the Build Back Better World (B3W) program that will invest in five to ten large flagship infrastructure projects to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative in January. ASD Malign Finance Fellow Josh Rudolph told the Dispatch, “While the American public has been fixated on domestic infrastructure plans wending through Congress, White House officials have also been traveling the globe doing diligence on investments that would deliver for people around the world on issues they care about, while also leading the G7 to present a value-driven alternative to China’s exportation of corruption. Unveiling specific projects by January would strike a compelling pose of having started to rebuild at home and abroad within Biden’s first year.”

In Case You Missed It 

  • The House approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that will invest nearly $2 billion in cybersecurity efforts throughout the federal government and improvements in cybersecurity for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
  • Israeli spyware company NSO Group was added to a U.S. trade blacklist banning business dealings with the firm. 
  • The Biden administration issued a sweeping order mandating nearly all federal agencies to patch hundreds of cyber vulnerabilities to improve the nation’s cyber defenses.
  • An Australian regulator ordered facial recognition firm Clearview AI to stop collecting images from websites and destroy previously collected data after it was found breaking data privacy laws. 
  • CIA Director William Burns discussed U.S.-Russia cooperation, cybersecurity, and  Russian cyberattacks with high-level officials during a rare visit to Moscow. 
  • EU lawmakers urged the bloc to establish a special task force aimed at “monitoring interference coming from China.”

ASD in the News

Retaining Election Officials to Secure Future Elections, MIT Election Lab. Written by Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Europe’s Gas Crisis and Russian Energy Politics: Experts Respond, Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. Written by Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina

With Friends Like These: Gulf States Must Not Be Given Carte Blanche to Poison the Cyber-Realm, Alliance for Securing Democracy. Written by Research Assistant Nathan Kohlenberg

Republican victors on Tuesday likely benefited from laws making voting easier that the GOP opposed, Business Insider. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Breitbart has outsize influence over climate change denial on Facebook, report says, The Washington Post. Comments from Senior Fellow Bret Schafer

5 key updates in the Pentagon’s 2021 China Military Power Report, American Enterprise Institute. Written by Co-Director Zack Cooper

Quote of the Week

“It [corruption] also goes hand-in-hand with autocracy, fueling it, because it turns out those who centralize power, centralized wealth. And when it is exposed, it can elicit fury and drive people to the streets like few other issues.”

  • USAID Administrator Samantha Power said during an event co-hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition on November 4, 2021.
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.