Russia, China, and other authoritarian regimes weaponize democracies’ free information ecosystems to undermine support for democracy. The United States should leverage its advantages to fight back in the information space through public diplomacy, as Bret Schafer, Rachael Dean Wilson, and Jessica Brandt write in a new report.
The Polish government’s capture of independent media has damaged the fairness of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. International observers should call out such attempts of democratic subversion well before election day, according to Nathan Kohlenberg and Josh Rudolph in their latest Just Security piece.
AI deepfakes target Slovakia’s election: Deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence were disseminated on social media days before Slovakia’s tight parliamentary election, including fake audio recordings of Progressive Slovakia party leaders discussing buying votes from the country’s Roma minority and mocking local voters. Managing Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy David Salvo told the Dispatch, “The use of this type of sophisticated deepfake technology in Slovakia’s election is a scary development and, I fear, portends worse to come. Access to AI technology has become democratized in a way. It’s not simply state-sponsored actors who have the ability to spread disinformation or outright falsehoods through this medium. In polarized electoral environments like the United States, where there are millions of citizens who already doubt the integrity of the electoral system, the misuse of sophisticated deepfake technology can upend any confidence in the vote. Figuring out ways to differentiate authentic content from manipulated content at scale is an immediate and urgent challenge for democracies.”
EU to protect sensitive technology from China: The European Union asked member states to conduct risk assessments of four sensitive technologies—advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum, and biotechnology—to better protect them from interference from China and other countries. Lindsay Gorman, Head of Technology and Geopolitics at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, said, “Ensuring that the transatlantic alliance is swimming in the same direction on defensive technology measures vis-à-vis China isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s vital for the ultimate success of measures like outbound investment screening and export controls. Until now, countering the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence in emerging technologies has largely been about the United States throwing down a gauntlet and convincing allies to get on board with specific measures. The European, risk-based approach holds real, long-term promise for answering the question of just how far should democratic societies go in decoupling their technology ecosystems from China.”
Russian influence campaigns seek to undermine US, EU support for Ukraine: US officials warned that Russia will direct its expansive network of spy agencies and online disinformation campaigns toward promoting conspiracy theories and pro-Russian politicians in order to sway the United States and European Union away from supporting Ukraine. ASD’s Bret Schafer said, “For more than a year, Russia’s overt information strategy in the West has shifted from one focused on justifying its full-scale invasion to one focused on highlighting the real and perceived costs of the war on Europe and the United States. It is therefore entirely unsurprising that this approach would be reflected in their covert activities as well, given that Moscow clearly sees Western support as a weaker link than Ukrainian resolve.”
In Case You Missed It
- The US National Security Agency will create an Artificial Intelligence Security Center to protect AI systems from hacks, intellectual property theft, and other security threats.
- The German far-right Alternative for Deutschland party’s lead candidate for 2024’s European Parliament elections, a staunch defender of the Chinese government, has reportedly accepted money from a Chinese Communist Party-linked lobbying network.
- US officials warned leaders of Latin American countries, including Peru, that China could exploit infrastructure projects and investments in their countries to increase their geopolitical influence and conduct cyberattacks.
- A US official will lead the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)—the United Nations’ telecommunications and tech infrastructure agency—after defeating a Russian official in a vote of UN member states that pitted Western democracies’ views of an open internet against authoritarian countries’ model of internet censorship.
- A number of Taiwanese technology companies are helping Huawei build chip-making plants in mainland China, prompting fears that Taipei’s efforts to keep advanced technology from Beijing are insufficient.
- The Slovak Foreign Ministry condemned and debunked a Russian intelligence publication—released during Slovakia’s pre-election media moratorium—alleging that the United States instructed European allies to interfere in the election and ensure Progressive Slovakia’s victory.
Toxic social media is harming democracies — and my starving daughter. GMF’s Senior Vice President of Democracy Laura Thornton wrote in The Washington Post
U.S. Democratic process in jeopardy as GOP state legislatures seek control of local election offices. Senior Election Integrity Fellow David Levine quoted in the Milwaukee Independent
Has China’s Huawei Beaten US Chip Controls? Head of Technology and Geopolitics Lindsay Gorman quoted in Newsweek
“AI can be used to supercharge censorship, surveillance, and the creation and spread of disinformation. Advances in AI are amplifying a crisis for human rights online.”
—Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz wrote for the release of a new report on internet freedom on October 4.