OUR PICKSThe U.S. Must Win the AI Race | Microsoft’s Security Failings Allowed China to Access US Government Emails | Supreme Court Rejects Trump-Era Ban on Gun Bump Stocks, and more

Published 14 June 2024

·  Stanford’s Top Disinformation Research Group Collapses Under Pressure
The Stanford Internet Observatory provided real-time analysis on viral election falsehoods, but has struggled amid attacks from conservative politicians and activists

·  Supreme Court Rejects Trump-Era Ban on Gun Bump Stocks
The justices found that the administration had exceeded its power in prohibiting the sale and possession of the gun attachments

·  US Leaders Dodge Questions About Israel’s Influence Campaign
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has joined US intelligence officials in ignoring repeated inquiries about Israel’s “malign” efforts to covertly influence US voters

·  The U.S. Must Win the AI Race
Wars are won by the side that manages to effectively utilize the latest technology. Artificial Intelligence is no different

·  Microsoft Admits Security Failings Allowed China to Access US Government Emails
The April 2024 CSRB report blamed Microsoft for a “cascade of security failures” that enabled Chinese hackers to access the email accounts of 25 organizations, including US government officials

Stanford’s Top Disinformation Research Group Collapses Under Pressure  (Joseph Menn, Washinton Post)
The Stanford Internet Observatory, which published some of the most influential analysis on the spread of false information on social media during elections, has shed most of its staff and may shut down amid political and legal attacks that have cast a pall on efforts to study online misinformation.
Just three staffers remain at the Observatory, who will either leave or find roles at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, which is absorbing what remains of the program, according to eight people familiar with the developments, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
The Election Integrity Partnership, a prominent consortium run by the Observatory and a University of Washington team to identify viral falsehoods about election procedures and outcomes in real time, has updated its webpage to say its work has concluded.
Two ongoing lawsuits and two congressional inquiries into the Observatory have cost Stanford millions of dollars in legal fees, one of the people told The Washington Post. Students and scholars affiliated with the program say they have been worn down by online attacks and harassment, amid the heated political climate for misinformation research, as legislators threaten to cut federal funding to universities studying propaganda.
The collapse of the five-year-old Observatory is the latest and largest of a series of setbacks to the community of researchers who try to detect propaganda and explain how false narratives are manufactured, gather momentum and become accepted by various groups. It follows Harvard’s dismissal of misinformation expert Joan Donovan, who in a December whistleblower complaint alleged the university’s close and lucrative ties with Facebook parent Meta led the university to clamp down on her work, which was highly critical of the social media giant’s practices.

Supreme Court Rejects Trump-Era Ban on Gun Bump Stocks  (Abbie VanSickle, New York Times)
The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a ban on bump stocks enacted by the Trump administration after a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. (Cont.)