• Cyber-enabled election interference occurs in one-fifth of democracies

    Cyber-enabled election interference has already changed the course of history. Fergus Hanson and Elise Thomas write in The Strategist that whether or not the Russian interference campaign during the US 2016 federal election was enough to swing the result, the discovery and investigation of the campaign and its negative effects on public trust in the democratic process have irrevocably shaped the path of Donald Trump’s presidency.

  • Hacking democracies

    A new report from an Australian think tank offers an in-depth, and sobering, analysis of Russia’s campaign to undermine Western democracies by weaponizing social media, and, to a lesser extent, China’s similar, if lower-key, campaign against neighboring Asian countries. “Democracies need to look at better ways of imposing costs on adversaries,” the report’s authors say.

  • Eric Oliver on the science of conspiracy theories and political polarization

    The “birthers,” “Pizzagate,” anti-vaxxers. It seems that belief in conspiracy theories is on the rise. At the same time, our polarization is worse than ever. People can hardly even maintain a conversation across political or cultural lines. Could the underlying force driving conspiracy theories also be the same one that’s dividing our country?

  • Dystopian Future Watch: Is San Francisco’s facial recognition ban too little, too late?

    Life just keeps creeping along, leading us step-by-step closer to living in a Philip K. Dick dystopian future—in real-time. And often, in our surveillance culture, we are willing participants to work alongside Big Brother. “Remember how fun it used to be to see facial recognition and retina scanning in sci-fi movies?” Hermon Leon asks in the Observer. “We loved it in RoboCop and Blade Runner, right? Now, many of these biometric technologies have become a nightmarish reality. Let’s take a look.”

  • Be afraid of the world, be very afraid

    Who’s right: Cassandra or Dr. Pangloss? Are we on the brink of serious trouble, as Cassandra of Greek myth prophesied, or is all for the best “in this best of all possible worlds,” as the fictional Pangloss insisted in Voltaire’s Candide? “I’m generally a fairly upbeat guy, despite my realist proclivities and my recurring frustrations at the embarrassing state of U.S. foreign policy,” Stephen M. Walt writes in Foreign Policy. “But today I’m going to indulge my inner Cassandra and describe the five bad things that worry me today. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Google cuts Huawei access to Android software updates

    Google said on Sunday it was rescinding Huawei’s license to use Google’s mobile phone operating system Android, and Google services such as Google maps and YouTube. The move will force the Chinese technology company to rely on an open-source version of the software. The move follows a presidential executive order prohibiting American companies from using telecommunications equipment made by “foreign adversaries” viewed as posing a threat to U.S. national security.

  • Why Huawei security concerns cannot be removed from U.S.-China relations

    Huawei’s role in building new 5G networks has become one of the most controversial topics in current international relations. The U.S. is exercising direct diplomatic pressure to stop states from using the Chinese telecoms giant. The U.S. government regards Huawei as a clear and present danger to national security and argues that any ally opting for Huawei will compromise vital intelligence sharing among these countries in the future.

  • Coast Guard offers U.S. new tool in disputed South China Sea

    A rare U.S. Coast Guard exercise in the South China Sea this month shows that the United States is broadening its reach in a disputed waterway, a new pressure point between Washington and the sea’s chief claimant Beijing.

  • Why the Christchurch call to remove online terror content triggers free speech concerns

    France and New Zealand spearheaded the adoption on May 15 of the Christchurch Call to Eliminate Terrorist & Violent Extremist Content Online, a voluntary pledge endorsed by 18 countries and many tech companies (including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter). The United States refused to join, citing tofree speech concerns. The Christchurch Call was named after the city in New Zealand where a horrific terrorist attack killed 51 people and injured 50 at two mosques in March. That massacre was live-streamed on Facebook, spreading quickly on that platform as well as other social media sites and raising concerns about how such content goes viral. Evelyn Aswad writes in Just Security that U.S. isolation amidst close allies with respect to this initiative has led to questions about what were the First Amendment hurdles that prevented the U.S. from joining this pledge, especially given it constitutes a political commitment rather than a legally binding document.

  • Inside the secret dinners where Congress figures out how to stop a nuclear apocalypse

    Washington is home to countless private soirees and high powered dinner clubs, but there’s only one gathering devoted to nukes. They take place once every couple of months at a restaurant or townhome on Capitol Hill and are organized by former Democratic congressman John Tierney, who heads a group that advocates nuclear nonproliferation. Attendance is usually strong—at least a couple of dozen lawmakers show up—and they’re joined by experts like former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Sam Brodey writes in the Daily Beast that with global nuclear threats on the rise, and with Congress’ general knowledge of those threats on the decline since the end of the Cold War, those involved with the dinner say it’s more important than ever for lawmakers to have an informal venue where they can bolster their nuclear bona fides.

     

  • Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2019

    The PAVE Act requires paper ballots and statistically rigorous “risk-limiting” audits for all federal elections – two measures recommended by experts in a National Academies of Sciences 2018 report. Election security experts who focus on the engineering, computing, and statistical aspects of election security expressed their support for PAVE. “Paper ballots and risk limiting audits are the only known viable approaches for ensuring that software and hardware attacks cannot alter election results,” said one expert. “As the threats to our elections increasingly includes sophisticated foreign adversaries, it is especially important that these simple, proven safeguards be universally implemented.”

  • Analytic superiority, public-private cooperation and the future of U.S. foreign intelligence

    After years of focusing on counterterrorism, a mainly kinetic threat, the U.S. intelligence community must now adapt to a long-term cyber struggle with nation-state adversaries. This struggle includes election interference and other socio-political disruption, cyber sabotage, theft of secrets, and competition in emerging technologies such as quantum computing and 5G wireless communications. David Kris writes in Lawfare that to succeed against these threats, the intelligence community must shift its approach in two related ways. First, it must focus on analytic superiority as well as cryptographic superiority—terms that I explain below but that basically require a shift in emphasis from accessing data to managing and using data. Second, to achieve analytic superiority, the intelligence community must develop stronger partnerships with the private sector and academia, and a broader base of external support with the American people.

  • Whistleblower: Facebook deceived public on extent of extremist content removal

    According to a whistleblower’s complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that was recently revealed in an AP investigation, Facebook has been misleading the public and its shareholders about the efficacy of its content moderation efforts.

  • The mainstreaming of conspiracy theories

    Is paranoia running rampant? Are believers getting the upper hand? The idea that the moon landing was fake is too exotic for most of us. But who truly believes that global warming is a hoax, or that dark forces rule the world? Quite a few people, according to a researcher of conspiracy theories.

  • How are conspiracy theories adopted, and what are their risks?

    Why do people adopt conspiracy theories, how are they communicated, and what are their risks? A new report examines these questions, drawing on research in psychology, information engineering, political science, and sociology.