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Our Takes

The danger of artificial intelligence (AI) is not just that it can make us believe “things that are not real, it’s that it can get us to start doubting the things that are real”, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer said at GMF Brussels Forum 2024. Get smart on AI and the information space in less than 10 minutes here.

Democracies across Europe face increasingly sophisticated influence campaigns taking aim at elections. European countries must update the tools in their arsenals for combatting election falsehoods by learning from the best practices of their peers, write Senior Fellow David Levine, Research Assistant Krystyna Sikora, and Daria Azariev North and Nikoleta Diossy of the International Foundations for Electoral Systems write in a new report.

Local stakeholders should recognize Gen Z’s “full potential as partners in the fight for election security” and offer hands-on experience and training to tech-savvy young Americans, Senior Fellow David Levine and Massimiliano Albanese write in the Fulcrum.

News and Commentary

US agencies issue guidance on securing election infrastructure against foreign influence operations: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released joint guidance to help election infrastructure stakeholders better understand malign foreign influence tactics and how to mitigate them, including training staff on how to respond to AI-generated media and enforcing cybersecurity protocols like multi-factor authentication. Senior Fellow David Levine said, “Autocratic actors have consistently targeted US elections as part of their efforts to weaken the United States and its standing in the world, and there’s little reason to believe that such efforts will desist, or even diminish, before the 2024 general elections. This guide from CISA, the FBI, and ODNI discusses how foreign malign actors have refined their tactics to meddle in elections in the United States and elsewhere and provides important steps election officials and the American public can take to ensure that the 2024 elections are as secure as possible. Some of the recommendations reaffirm longstanding best practices. Others are in response to the rise of new technologies, such as generative AI. All of it should be required reading for American voters.”

Germany arrests lawmaker’s aide for allegedly spying for the PRC: German police have arrested an aide to European Parliament lawmaker and top candidate of the far-right Alternative for Deutschland party Maximilian Krah for allegedly sharing sensitive information about European Parliament negotiations and decisions with the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) intelligence. Senior Manager for Europe and Fellow Vassilis Ntousas told the Dispatch, “The list of interference-related incidents surfacing across Europe is only expected to grow and become more public, following years of below-the-radar, under-reported malign activities. After a separate case in Latvia and Belgium’s actions as part of Russia-gate, this bombshell arrest in Germany reveals heightened sensitivity to, and growing recognition of, malign interference on the part of many EU member states. This week, German authorities also arrested three people suspected of trying to sell information on military technology to a PRC intelligence service. There is no doubt that such government actions are welcome and important in their own right. But real consequences must follow—both in terms of continuing to combat interference activities with the same zeal and of further strengthening the regulatory framework.”

In Case You Missed It

  • Russian online disinformation campaigns around the US election have intensified over roughly the past month and a half, with a focus on undermining US support for Ukraine and NATO, according to Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center.
  • The PRC has brought a department dedicated to information warfare under the direct command of its top military body, tightening leader Xi Jinping’s control over its affairs.
  • The Italian government approved a draft law to punish the dissemination of AI-generated content intended to mislead about its origin with prison sentences between one and five years, depending on an assessment of the content’s damage.
  • The pro-Russian Voice of Europe website has restarted online operations, now based in Kazakhstan, after Czech authorities sanctioned the site’s operations in the country for allegedly helping to bribe European lawmakers to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda.
  • CISA plans to launch an automated program by the end of the year to alert organizations if ransomware gangs are exploiting vulnerabilities in the software they use.

Quote of the Week

“Our greatest security threats today are, at their core, about democracy and freedom. It’s what our adversaries fear the very most.”

—GMF Vice President of Democracy Laura Thornton on April 19 during a panel discussion at GMF Brussels Forum 2024 with Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Utah County Commission Chair Amelia Powers-Gardner, and former Election Security team leader at the Swedish Election Authority Sebastian Bay.

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