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Our Take

The United States should turn to an often overlooked source of ideas to help it counter polarization and election mis- and disinformation: other democracies, Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson, Senior Fellow David Levine, and Kevin Johnson write in a report out today.

EU accession has to be the central organizing anchor of Ukrainian recovery, Senior Fellow Josh Rudolph said on the Power Vertical.

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Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Russian diplomats and state media focused on three main narratives this week:  

  • Counteroffensive: Russian propagandists argued that the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive had failed, amplified claims that it had turned into a bloodbath for Ukrainian soldiers, and asserted that US President Joe Biden would be frustrated and NATO would be tainted by Ukraine’s failure.
  • Donald Trump: “Trump” was the fourth most used key phrase by Kremlin-linked accounts last week as they sought to defend the former president against charges that led to him being arraigned earlier this week. Russian state media amplified posts that criticized Biden, the Department of Justice, and themainstream” media for their stances on Trump’s indictment. They also critiqued US democracy and repeated claims that Biden is more corrupt than Trump. 
  • Russia Day: “RussiaDay”, which referenced the June 12 national holiday, was the most frequently used hashtag by Kremlin-affiliated Twitter accounts last week. The tweets called for national unity and celebrated acknowledgements of the holiday in places like the United Arab Emirates and India.

Chinese diplomats and state media focused on three main topics this week:

  • Nothing to see in Cuba: Reports that China had reached an agreement to set up an eavesdropping facility in Cuba were met with defiance from Chinese diplomats and state media. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the consul in Barcelona went on the offensive and pointed the finger at the United States’ own history of espionage. Pakistan-based diplomat Zhang Heqing and CGTN commentator Li Jingjing dismissed the report as “another balloon incident” and an attempt to derail US-China relations.
  • Attacking the United States: Chinese messaging produced a wide range of anti-US content throughout the week, accusing Washington of treating Taiwan as an expendable pawn, determining that Ukraine’s counter-offensive was launched “under US pressure”, and labeling the United States as a “bully and hegemon” for suggesting that China is now a “developed country”. The attacks focused mainly on US foreign policy; Chinese state media covered former President Trump’s indictment in a broadly factual manner, and Chinese diplomats avoided the topic altogether.
  • Honduras: Honduran President Xiomara Castro’s state visit to Beijing last week drew substantial coverage from Chinese accounts, especially in Spanish. Honduras formally broke ties with Taiwan and shifted recognition to the People’s Republic of China in March of this year. CGTN quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as saying that “history would remember” the visit.

News and Commentary

States introduce nearly 200 bills to subvert elections this year, report finds: Lawmakers in 38 states have introduced 185 bills this year—most of which are rooted in baseless conspiracies of widespread election fraudthat make it easier for state governments to overturn elections, threaten to make elections more partisan, or create unnecessary burdens in election administration, according to a new analysis. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said, This report is the latest to point out that attempts to undermine US elections appear to be evolving, not diminishing. It’s one thing to make changes to how a voter can cast a ballot well before an election takes place; it’s quite another to threaten the integrity of how votes are counted, audited and/or verified. Far too many of the bills introduced this year target the latter and risk amplifying false claims that recent elections have been stolen, which could further solidify the false belief among a large segment of voters that US elections are unfair.”

European Parliament passes artificial intelligence regulations: The European Parliament passed a bill regulating the use of artificial intelligence, which includes restrictions on facial recognition software, requirements for chatbot creators to disclose information about their programs, and stricter rules for language models on which other systems can be built. Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman told the Dispatch, “This is a huge opening salvo globally for regulating AI that many other nations will look to as they develop their own national AI initiatives. Given the complexity, multifaceted nature, and breakneck pace of AI, it’s unlikely that such regulations will be carbon copies of the EU AI Act in the way that many national data protection laws were as regards GDPR. But the EU has set a fascinating template regardless and is cementing its role as the democratic leader in technology regulation.”

France pulls down fake website pages tied to Russian disinfo campaign: France’s government condemned Russia for information manipulation efforts after foiling a Russian disinformation campaign that created fake versions of 355 websites—including the Foreign Ministry’s page and those of French dailies Le Monde and Le Parisien—in France and nine other countries. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer said, “Typosquatting, the manipulation technique used in this case, is a tactic that we have seen several state and non-state actors use to spoof credible websites and one that was highlighted last year in EU Disinfo Lab’s Doppelganger report. What’s new is that the French government was willing to publicly attribute this specific campaign to Russia, continuing a trend of France being among the more aggressive nations in publicly calling out Russian malign influence activities.”

In Case You Missed It

  • The European Commission blocked Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE from receiving EU research funding, singling out the companies for the first time and backing member states that have imposed restrictions on Huawei technology.
  • Several US federal agencies were hit by a cyberattack that exploits a commonly used software and is suspected to be part of an ongoing Russian-speaking hacking group’s campaign, which stole data from BBC, British Airways, and others last week.
  • United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres will appoint a scientific advisory board to study artificial intelligence and expressed interest in creating a new UN agency focused on the issue.
  • Cybercriminals need a voice sample of only three seconds to create an artificial intelligence-generated replication of a target’s voice that is able to convince 70% of respondents of its authenticity, according to computer security company McAfee’s new study.
  • Ukrainian officials raided and shut down a bot farm that managed more than 4,000 social media accounts impersonating Ukrainian citizens and spreading pro-Russia disinformation.
  • China has come to pose “the most serious threat to France in terms of foreign interference” besides Russia, according to a French parliamentary committee report, which noted that China has become “increasingly aggressive” and takes inspiration from Russian tactics.

ASD in the News

Tussle in Texas over how elections are run could spread to other states. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in Iowa Capital Dispatch

I legami di TikTok con la Cina: l’Europa si muove per la tutela dei dati e il contrasto alla disinformazione. ASD research highlighted in Cybersecurity 360

Quote of the Week

“If we do not want China to change the world order without us, we must create a sufficient counterbalance. We can only achieve this by being united, not only within the EU or NATO but with all democratic countries in the world, with countries that share the same values.”

  • Czech President Petr Pavel said at the European Values Summit in Prague, the Czech Republic on June 14.

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