Our picksWas your voting machine hacked?; surveillance kills freedom; anatomy of a conspiracy theory, and more

Published 16 November 2018

·  China violated Obama-Xi cyber pact banning cyber-enabled economic espionage: NSA official

·  Was your voting machine hacked? Without more user-friendly devices, we may not know

·  The new politics of climate change

·  How the generals are routing the policy wonks at the Pentagon

·  Anatomy of a conspiracy theory

·  Inside the shady PR firm that attacked George Soros to help Facebook

·  Warren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators

·  Surveillance kills freedom by killing experimentation

China violated Obama-Xi cyber pact banning cyber-enabled economic espionage: NSA official (Andrew Blake, Washington Times)
China has violated a bilateral agreement with the United States, reached during the Obama administration, that bans either country from conducting state-sponsored, cyber-enabled economic espionage against each other, a top U.S. National Security Agency official claimed Thursday.

Was your voting machine hacked? Without more user-friendly devices, we may not know (Marc Canellas, Just Security)
On Election Day 2018, I was privileged to serve as an advisor to NBC News as part of the team from the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Institute. We provided election-technology monitoring, problem analysis, and related subject-matter expertise on the air and off-air. My role was to serve as a senior election-policy analyst, helping analyze voter-submitted reports of issues on Election Day by leveraging my experience as a cybersecurity staffer in Congress and my training as a PhD cognitive engineer specializing in the design of complex human-technology systems. And issues there were. The OSET Institute logged more than 900 individual reports of voting issues, according to the TrustTheVote Project’s first PollWatch campaign. But the problems weren’t the anticipated cyberattacks.
Voters in several states experienced a chaotic array of vote-casting problems: reports in Ohio that electronic pollbooks mistakenly showed voters as having already voted by absentee ballot; aging touchscreen voting machines in South Carolina “mismarking” ballots — that is, switching voters’ selections to other candidates; and voting tabulators in North Carolina rejecting legitimate, but oversized ballots swollen by moisture from the humidity of unseasonably wet weather. Toss in a few trending stories showing how it can be literally child’s play to manipulate voter registration on state election websites, and sprinkle with high-profile candidates claiming their state’s registration information was hacked by the opposing party, and you have a recipe for no one trusting election results.

The new politics of climate change (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic)
The dust is settling on the 2018 midterms—and no plan to fight global warming has emerged unscathed.

How the generals are routing the policy wonks at the Pentagon (Lara Seligman, Foreign Policy)
At stake is civilian control of the military.

Anatomy of a conspiracy theory (Keith Kloor, Politico)
Credible sources say the Las Vegas shooting was a one-man job. But a small band of former government insiders is propagating a wild alternative theory—with dangerous consequences.

Inside the shady PR firm that attacked George Soros to help Facebook (Kevin Poulsen, Will Sommer, Daily Beast)
The group’s electronic fingerprints also connect it to at least two recent dark-money campaigns fighting environmental causes.

Warren, 2020 Dems target private immigration detention center operators (Rafael Bernal, The Hill)
A group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent out letters Friday to three private immigration detention center contractors, demanding information on their  allegedly poor conditions.
The Democrats wrote that it is “unclear” whether CoreCivic, The GEO Group and The Nakamoto Group are each “serving as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.”

Surveillance kills freedom by killing experimentation (Bruce Schneier, Wired)
In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality. I talk about how it increases personal freedom and individual autonomy, and how the lack of it makes us all less secure. But this is probably the most important argument as to why society as a whole must protect privacy: it allows society to progress.
We know that surveillance has a chilling effect on freedom. People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.