Our Take

Although bipartisanship will not be possible in every instance, on the right set of common objectives, Congress has a path forward when it comes to combatting foreign interference, Head of Research and Policy Jessica Brandt argued in Lawfare.

To significantly increase voting machine security, states should replace paperless voting equipment, Fellow on Elections Integrity David Levine told The Hill.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline pits Germany’s economic interests against Europe’s broader geopolitical interests, Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina told CNBC and The New York Times.

Protecting consumer and data privacy is an important part of countering authoritarian interference, Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman warned Brazil’s Valor Econômico, Veja magazine, and the Institute of Applied Economic Research.

News and Commentary

Facebook removes Russian influence networks spreading disinformation in Africa: Last week, Facebook removed three Russian-backed influence networks on its platform that were aimed at African countries and reportedly linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin—a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of the Internet Research Agency. The networks posted content on local and global political news, including praise for Russian policies in Africa and criticism of French and U.S. policies in the region. They also leveraged encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram and WhatsApp, to develop closer relationships with followers and outsourced their disinformation efforts to locals. ASD experts have expressed concern about the use of end-to-end-encrypted platforms such as WhatsApp to facilitate the spread of disinformation in their open consultation submission to the U.K. Parliament in June 2019.  (The New York Times, Economic Times, ASD)

Twitter stops accepting political and issue ads: Twitter announced last Wednesday that it will no longer accept political and issue advertisements on its platform. In his announcement on Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey expressed concern over “forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages” on users and the effect this may have on political discourse. Director Laura Rosenberger wrote in response to Twitter’s announcement that other online platforms should follow suit. (Twitter, Washington Post, Twitter)

Government officials in 20 countries targeted by hackers using WhatsApp servers: Earlier this year, senior government officials in at least 20 countries were targeted with spyware from an Israeli company, NSO Group, that allegedly used vulnerabilities in WhatsApp’s software to hack users’ phones. WhatsApp filed a lawsuit last Tuesday claiming the company spread malware to 1,400 mobile phones, in an attempt to target senior government officials along with journalists, diplomats, and human rights activists. Fellow on Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman has stressed the need to develop new cyber policies that reflect the increasing strategic value of personal data. (Reuters, Vice, Fifth Domain)

Quote of the Week

“The Russians, in general, have not been deterred. We see them not only in Africa, using social media to widen cleavages and raise debates, they are still doing it here. They haven’t stopped… others have seen the benefits of this and joined in… this is now spreading and becoming a larger problem.”

  • Former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Michael Morrell, on a panel on Russian meddling in democratic elections (October 30, 2019)
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.