Announcements

At the Alliance for Securing Democracy, we are working to develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions. We hope you will consider supporting our bipartisan work on Giving Tuesday.

Our Take

The Russian government is doubling down on its victory from 2016 by advancing false narratives inside our country again, such as the notion that Ukraine meddled in the U.S. presidential election, Non-Resident Fellow Clint Watts told Ali Velshi on MSNBC.

Authentic domestic voices that pick up Moscow’s narratives and spread them across the information space hand the Kremlin a victory, Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt argued in The Hill in a piece about the conspiracy theory blaming Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 election. 

News and Commentary

U.S. Commerce Department takes action to secure information and communications supply chain from foreign adversaries: Last week, the Commerce Department proposed a rule aimed at safeguarding the nation’s information and communications technology and services (ICTS) supply chain from national security threats. The rulemaking sets out procedures for the Commerce Secretary to use in evaluating ICTS transactions that may pose an “undue risk” to critical U.S. infrastructure, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The rule implements the executive order signed by President Trump in May, which gave the Secretary the authority to ban U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment provided by firms posing national security risks. Chinese telecom giant Huawei, in particular, has been at the center of concerns about threats to the ICTS supply chain. Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman has highlighted the risks of using Huawei-made components in critical networks in the European context, arguing that the company’s economic embedding in Europe could have profound implications for security. (Commerce.gov, Whitehouse.gov, Fifth Domain, The Hill, Defense One)

Bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed swiftly through Congress and signed into law: President Trump signed a bipartisan bill supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have roiled the city for nearly six months. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 will, among other things, impose penalties on Beijing for violations of human rights in Hong Kong. It also urges the Secretary of State to “clearly inform” the Chinese government that using social media to spread disinformation or intimidate perceived enemies is unacceptable. Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt has outlined how Beijing has promoted disinformation, including on Western platforms, to discredit the protests. Co-directors Zack Cooper and Laura Rosenberger have argued that the United States must push back against China’s information operations. (TIME, Govtrack.us, South China Morning Post, Axios, Washington Post)

In other news

  • Australia is creating a new intelligence task force to tackle foreign interference amid growing concerns that China is meddling in its domestic affairs.
  • Following the leak of classified documents exposing China’s surveillance practices, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that Huawei works directly with the Chinese Government’s public security bureaus, along with the company ByteDance, in carrying out its Xinjiang activities.
  • Chinese regulators published new rules governing video and audio content, including a ban on the distribution of “fake news” that is created with technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
  • China put into effect new regulations requiring Chinese telecom providers to scan the faces of users registering new mobile phones, placing millions more people under the purview of facial recognition technology.
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it is suspending visits to Hong Kong by U.S. ships and aircrafts, and imposing sanctions on several U.S.-based think tanks in reaction to a human rights bill President Trump signed last week.
  • Experts say the leak and distribution of classified British-U.S. trade documents online resembles a Russian disinformation campaign from earlier this year and is raising concerns about foreign interference in Britain’s upcoming election.
  • Senate Democrats and Republicans on the Commerce Committee released online privacy proposals, furthering bipartisan efforts to create the nation’s first comprehensive privacy bill.
  • Google announced that in the past few months it has sent over 12,000 security warnings to users in 149 countries about email attacks linked to a government-backed hacking group.
  • Recent voting machine failures in Pennsylvania during the 2019 election have amplified calls for nationwide paper ballots and “risk limiting” audits.

Quote of the Week

“The U.S. now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Following last weekend’s historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong U.S. support for Hong Kongers’ long-cherished freedoms.”

  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) following the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019

“I am proud of this bipartisan law that sends a strong message to the demonstrators in Hong Kong, the government of Hong Kong, as well as the Communist Party of China: the United States is not only watching, but stands with demonstrators as they march for their autonomy, for their democracy, and for their human rights.”

  • Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) added about the bill’s passage
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.