Our Take

Russian and Chinese propagandists diverged in their messaging around the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, with Russia playing into culture war narratives and China seeking to undermine US leadership on human rights, Program Assistant Krysia Sikora and Research Analysts Etienne Soula and Joseph Bodnar found in a Hamilton 2.0 analysis.

As we build democratic defenses against disinformation and trust in accurate information, we must also address the underlying psychology that allows public indifference to truth, Director Laura Thornton writes in an op-ed for The Hill.

US democracy would be more secure from foreign interference with the permanent, not periodic, presence of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command election security team, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine writes in an op-ed for The Fulcrum.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main topics last week: 

  • NATO: Kremlin-linked accounts largely shrugged off Finland and Sweden’s invitations to join NATO but bashed the alliance’s recent summit by showcasing protesters, arguing its new strategy is “insane,” and claiming it is a destructive organization set to clash with Russia.
  • Mall bombing: Moscow’s propagandists claimed evidence of a Russian missile hitting a Ukrainian shopping mall was fake, justified targeting a mall, and argued that the mall caught fire after a bomb hit a nearby weapons facility.

Chinese diplomats and state media highlighted three narratives last week: 

  • NATO: Chinese propagandists targeted NATO with a barrage of criticism by pushing back on the alliance’s portrayal of China’s role in the world and depicting NATO as an offensive alliance that is dominated by the United States.
  • Hong Kong: Beijing-linked accounts’ biggest messaging priority was celebrating the 25 anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong, with state media highlighting the importance of the “one country, two systems” principle and criticizing Western claims of Chinese repression in Hong Kong.
  • US Supreme Court: Chinese officials and state-backed outlets used a series of Supreme Court rulings to depict the United States as rife with gun violence, abusive of women’s rights, and unreliable on climate change. 

Read the full report here

News and Commentary

EU Parliament passes landmark bills to rein in Big Tech: The European Parliament approved the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires digital service providers to regulate the spread of disinformation and harmful content on their platforms, and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which obligates major online platforms to ensure a fair and open digital business environment. Head of the Information Manipulation Team Bret Schafer said, “Given the size of the European market and the inability of US legislators to advance meaningful tech regulation in the United States, it is likely that the DSA and DMA will, at least in the near-term, set the rules of the road globally. While there is a lot to like about both bills, their ultimate success will depend on the quality of enforcement and compliance, a huge burden given the scope.”

NATO aims to address China challenge: NATO members signed accession protocols for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance and, for the first time, named China a “strategic challenge,” citing the country’s use of Russian disinformation, surveillance technology, and economic coercion. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said, “The Strategic Concept’s characterization of China and its emerging threats to the democratic values that unite NATO is spot on. Agreeing to this language is a significant achievement for the alliance and the first step in confronting a new security environmentone that goes beyond the traditional military arena. In emerging technology, it is exciting to see this vision backed by new initiatives like DIANA and the NATO Innovation Fund that will help drive NATO’s competitiveness in this new arena.”

Supreme Court to hear NC voting map case: The Supreme Court will hear a case about a North Carolina voting map that may give state legislatures almost unchecked power to set rules for federal elections not subject to review by state courts or constitutions. Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine told the Dispatch,A fundamental feature of any democracy is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. Any measures that make it easier for state legislatures to disregard their own state constitutions, ignore the will of their voters and appoint a slate of electors reflecting their own preferences directly undermines this right.”

In Case You Missed It   

  • US counterintelligence officials warned state, local, business leaders that China is accelerating its use of overt and covert tactics to influence policymaking on key issues.
  • Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate TikTok after reports alleged that the app granted China-based employees with access to US user data. 
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology selected its first four quantum resistant algorithms that are designed to secure sensitive data from cyberattacks.  
  • Russian hackers allegedly breached Ukraine’s biggest private energy conglomerate, DTEK Group, in retaliation for the owner’s opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine.  
  • Google allowed a sanctioned Russian ad company to harvest potentially sensitive user data in Ukraine and other countries during the first four months of the war, digital ad analysis firm Adalytics found
  • Top election officials in Yavapai County, Arizona will resign amid a wave of threats and harassment targeting election workers since the 2020 election.

ASD in the News

Quote of the Week

“We’re [Director General Ken McCallum and FBI Director Christopher Wray] not crying wolf. China is the most game-changing of all the threats in the sense that it pervades so many aspects of our national life.”

  • Director General of the Security Service (MI5) Ken McCallum said during a joint-press conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray on July 6, 2022. 

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.