Our Take

Democracies need a competitive offer and vision for the future internet, which includes counting 5G spending towards 2-percent goals, Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman argued in Defense One.

In a Washington Post piece on Russia’s efforts to target this week’s U.K. elections, Non-Resident Fellow Clint Watts argued that although Reddit acted responsibly by investigating and exposing Russian activity, Moscow may still have been able to achieve its objectives.

Awareness of Russian trolls targeting Black Lives Matter activists is rising. That is generally a good thing, but in some cases, confusion has led to name-calling and accusations of legitimate activists, Fellow for Media and Digital Disinformation Brett Schafer explained to the Christian Science Monitor.

The Russia question will remain a central focus for NATO countries as long as the Kremlin continues to interfere in Ukraine and Western democracies, Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina told Al Jazeera. She said to Kurier that if Russia does not change its behavior, member states likely will not move to rebuild relations with its government.

Foreign actors do not have to change a single vote to create the impression that they did, which can be extraordinarily damaging to Americans’ faith in election outcomes, Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt told the Casper Star-Tribune.

To avoid a repeat of 2016, the United States must limit its election infrastructure’s exposure to disruption by our adversaries, including by replacing paperless voting systems and running post-election audits, Fellow for Elections Integrity David Levine wrote in an ASD blog post.

Authoritarian interference operations that exploit economic and financial channels have thrown Western governments off balance. Targeting the foreign banks that are indirectly involved in money laundering schemes is crucial to shifting back the balance of power, explained Senior Fellow Josh Kirschenbaum in a blog post.

News and Commentary

Social media company Reddit detects suspected Russian disinformation campaign ahead of U.K. elections: Reddit announced that it found evidence of a Russian disinformation campaign on its platform aimed at spreading classified government documents in the lead-up to this week’s election. The social media company confirmed there was a “pattern of coordination” linking a recent post about leaked U.S.-U.K. trade negotiations to a Russian disinformation campaign found earlier this year. Last week, social media analytics firm Graphika reported numerous similarities in the tactics used to distribute the classified trade-talk documents and the Russian disinformation operation, known as “Secondary Infektion,” from June. In her testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director Laura Rosenberger underscored the importance of giving outside researchers greater access to data about activity on social media platforms, while respecting privacy considerations, as that could inform the development of strategies to address malign activity online. (Politico, Reddit, Facebook, Graphika, ASD)

NATO summit brings security concerns about 5G development, Huawei to the fore: At last week’s NATO summit in London, representatives from over a dozen nations, including Germany, France, Italy, and Denmark, discussed the challenge of safeguarding next-generation 5G technology. President Trump called attention to the “security dangers” posed by Chinese telecom firm Huawei, echoing concerns raised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier that week. In a message to EU allies, Secretary Pompeo also argued that efforts to secure 5G networks must go beyond preventing any one company from building them, and he urged member states to establish national standards to address potential threats to privacy, safety, and intellectual property, among others. Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman outlined concrete steps NATO countries can take to secure next-generation technologies, including by counting trusted 5G spending towards 2-percent targets, conducting joint risk assessments, and pursuing cooperative business models. (CNBC, Reuters, Politico.eu, Defense One)

In other news

  • Following a classified briefing from the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official, senators on both sides of the aisle warned of the growing threat of ransomware cyberattacks targeting small businesses and state and local governments.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will soon consider a bill, the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, that would impose new sanctions on Russia for its continued aggression against Ukraine and for interfering in U.S. elections.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers any mobile app or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a potential counterintelligence threat, based on the data it collects, and the legal mechanisms available to the Kremlin that allow access to all data within Russia’s borders.
  • Facebook raised the idea of labeling political ads on its platform to Democratic and Republican campaign operatives, according to reporting by the Washington Post.
  • Twitter will update its global privacy policy to provide users with more information about what advertisers might be able to access, and will also create a privacy center to centralize its data protection efforts.
  • Vice President of the European Commission, Vĕra Jourová, said platforms must do more to prevent the spread of manipulation campaigns online, while society also needs to learn more about how algorithms function.

Quote of the Week

 “5G networks will soon touch every aspect of life, including critical infrastructure. Innovative new capabilities will power autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, smart grids and other groundbreaking technologies. Thanks to the way 5G networks are built, it’s impossible to separate any one part of the network from another. With so much on the line, it’s urgent that trustworthy companies build these 21st-century information arteries. Specifically, it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE.”

  • Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a recent op-ed, “Europe must put security first with 5G” (December 2, 2019)
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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.