Europe

Articles about voting issues in Europe.

United Kingdom: Russia used a network of 150,000 Twitter accounts to meddle in Brexit | Business Insider

Twitter accounts based in Russia posted 45,000 tweets about Brexit within the space of 48 hours during last year’s referendum on EU membership, an investigation commissioned by The Times has found. Data scientists at the University of Swansea and University of California, Berkeley found that over 150,000 accounts based in Russia posted content relating to Brexit in the days leading up to voting day on June 23, 2016. These accounts had previously focused on issues like Russia’s annexation of Crimea, before focusing their attention on the Brexit referendum, with the majority of tweets seen by the Times encouraging people to vote Leave. Read More

Europe: Balance of Power: Russian Election Meddling Fears Invade Europe | Bloomberg

The Russia scandal has ricocheted back across the pond. And it’s dragging Silicon Valley’s giants along with it. Spurred on by Prime Minister Theresa May’s threat to retaliate against Russian interference, a parliamentary committee wants to grill executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter. The committee, following similar inquiries by U.S. lawmakers, is investigating whether Russians are using American internet companies to sway British elections, including last year’s Brexit vote. Read More

Switzerland: Should Swiss vote hackers be rewarded with cash? | SWI

In order to ensure the security of online voting systems used in Switzerland, the government needs to issue a challenge to the worldwide hacker community, offering rewards to anyone who can “blow holes in the system”, says a computer scientist in parliament. Since it began in 2000, Switzerland’s e-voting project has been a matter of controversy. While some have been calling for its introduction to be fast-tracked in all the country’s 26 cantons, others would like to see the project slowed. In parliament there has been a call for a moratorium on electronic voting in the whole country for four years, except for the Swiss abroad. To put an end to all the concerns and convince the critics that security and secrecy of online voting can be guaranteed, Radical Party parliamentarian Marcel Dobler thinks there needs to be an unequivocal demonstration that systems used in Switzerland are proof against computer piracy. The best way to do this, he says, is to invite hackers to target them. Read More

United Kingdom: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows | The Guardian

Concern about Russian influence in British politics has intensified as it emerged that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St Petersburg published posts about Brexit. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) attempting to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US. One of the accounts run from the Kremlin-linked operation attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March in a bogus post claiming a Muslim woman ignored victims – a claim that was highlighted by mainstream media outlets including Mail Online and the Sun. Read More

Spain: Madrid sees Russian interference in Catalonia separatist vote | Reuters

Madrid believes Russian-based groups used online social media to heavily promote Catalonia’s independence referendum last month in an attempt to destabilize Spain, Spanish ministers said on Monday. Spain’s defense and foreign ministers said they had evidence that state and private-sector Russian groups, as well as groups in Venezuela, used Twitter, Facebook and other Internet sites to massively publicize the separatist cause and swing public opinion behind it in the run-up to the Oct. 1 referendum. Catalonia’s separatist leaders have denied that Russian interference helped them in the vote. Read More

United Kingdom: Electoral Commission investigates Brexit campaign funding amid speculation of Russian meddling | Reuters

Britain’s Electoral Commission is investigating whether a leading anti-EU campaigner breached referendum finance rules, after speculation mounted that Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote. Arron Banks, a major donor to the anti-EU campaign who was pictured with Donald Trump and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage outside a gilded elevator soon after Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential election victory, denied the allegations. The Electoral Commission, which is already looking at whether Banks’ pro-Brexit Leave.EU group received any impermissible donations, said its new investigation would examine whether he was the true source of loans to a campaigner. Read More

Estonia: Digital ID shutdown brings security to the spotlight | GovInsider

Estonia, where citizens use their digital identity to get access to government services online, has identified a security flaw in 760,000 digital ID cards. Estonia shut down access to online services last weekend due to an encryption vulnerability in the chips of affected smartcards. The security issue was first identified in September, and plagues other cards, chips and systems made by the card manufacturer. While the manufacturer has resolved the problem last month, Estonian owners of affected cards still needed to apply for updated certificates. Police stations and other government offices were packed with citizens trying to update their IDs, mostly due to the fact that the online service for updates kept crashing last week. Read More

Estonia: ID card crisis: How e-state’s poster child got into and out of trouble | ZDNet

For the past two and a half months, Estonia has been facing the biggest security crisis since a wave of cyberattacks hit its banks and critical national infrastructure in 2007. At the heart of the current debacle is the latest version of its national ID card, which has been a mandatory identification document for citizens of Estonia since 2002 and serves as a cornerstone of Estonia’s e-state. The hardware behind the ID cards was found to be vulnerable to attacks, which could theoretically have led to identity thefts of Estonian citizens and also e-residents, something which its government has denied occurring. Read More

Slovenia: President Wins Second Term in Runoff Election | The New York Times

Voters in Slovenia went to the polls on Sunday to decide a runoff election between a sitting president deeply rooted in the political establishment and a former actor who had appealed to the electorate by tapping into concern about the struggling economy. With all votes counted after the polls closed at 7 p.m. local time, the incumbent, Borut Pahor — described by one news media outlet as Europe’s Instagram president — received nearly 53 percent, according to results published by Slovenia’s National Election Commission. His rival, Marjan Sarec, the former actor and mayor of a small town north of the capital, Ljubljana, received a little more than 47 percent of the vote. Read More

Spain: How the Russian meddling machine won the online battle of the illegal referendum | El País

Lacking the resources necessary to be able to achieve their objective of breaking away from Spain, pro-independence forces in Catalonia put their messages and fake news at the service of a pro-Russian meddling machine, which amplified them via thousands of profiles on the social networks with links to the Kremlin and Venezuelan chavismo, with the link of activists such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to a number of studies about the social conversation on the internet, this conscious strategy convinced international public opinion, given that it received no kind of resistance on the part of the institutions of the Spanish state. Neither the government, nor the political parties nor public media outlets responded in an organized manner to the attack against them on social networks. One part of the evidence: according to an analysis carried out by George Washington University of the social conversation that took place in the days prior and subsequent to the referendum of October 1, two narratives were created. Some 78.2% of messages defended the independence of Catalonia and portrayed the Spanish state as repressive for encouraging police brutality. Meanwhile, 19.2% defended the legitimacy of the Spanish state to be able to stop the referendum from going ahead given that it was unconstitutional. Read More