election interference

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Canada: Elections Canada wants to buy social media ‘listening’ tool to track threats ahead of 2019 election | Globalnews.ca

Twitter, Reddit, Facebook. All three have been accused over the last two years of letting themselves be used by Russian attempts to influence the 2016 American election and as a new procurement posting suggests, they are just a few of the social media sites Elections Canada wants to keep an even closer eye on as it tracks risks and trends ahead of the 2019 Canadian election. To do that, the elections agency plans to buy what it calls a “social media and open source data listening and analytics tool.” In a notice of proposed procurement posted on Tuesday morning, the elections agency writes that it needs the new tool to be able to “listen, in near real time, to key influencers to identify potential issues that may affect the election early on,” as well as to “detect, through timely and accurate notifications, potential incidents and trends affecting the integrity of Canadian electoral events in near real time.” Read More

Macedonia: U.S. Defense Secretary warns of Russian meddling in Macedonia referendum | Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Russia on Monday of attempting to influence the outcome of a referendum in Macedonia on changing the country’s name that would open the way for it to join NATO and the European Union. Speaking after talks in Skopje with Macedonia’s leaders, Mattis also said the United States was looking to expand cybersecurity cooperation with the small Balkan country. Macedonians will vote on Sept. 30 on a deal reached in June with neighboring Greece that would change the country’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Athens insisted on the change in return for lifting its opposition to Skopje joining NATO and the EU. Read More

National: Paul Manafort: Trump’s ex-campaign chair agrees to cooperate with Mueller | The Guardian

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in a move that could cause legal trouble for the president. The dramatic development in the Trump-Russia saga was announced at a court hearing in Washington DC on Friday morning, where Manafort confessed to two criminal charges as part of a plea deal. “I’m guilty,” he said. Manafort signed a 17-page plea agreement that said he would assist government prosecutors with “any and all” matters, and brief officials about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities”. He also agreed to turn over documents and testify in other cases.  Read More

National: Lawmakers warn Trump’s election interference order does not go nearly far enough | The Washington Post

The Trump administration’s latest effort to deter foreign interference in U.S. elections is falling flat with lawmakers, who are prepared to pursue even tougher punishments against Russia and other adversaries who seek to disrupt U.S. politics. Democrats — and at least one Republican — said President Trump’s order Wednesday authorizing additional sanctions against foreign entities that interfere in elections is too weak because it gives Trump discretion over when to impose the harshest penalties, as my colleagues Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez reported. The lawmakers seized on the opportunity to renew calls for legislation that they argued would more effectively deter election cyberattacks.  Read More

National: Facebook ‘Better Prepared’ to Fight Election Interference, Mark Zuckerberg Says | The New York Times

Mark Zuckerberg began the year by promising to make Facebook safer from election interference around the world. He has spent most of the rest of the year apologizing for not recognizing the problem earlier. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, published a roughly 3,300-word blog post cataloging all the steps the company has taken. “In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face,” he wrote, alluding to Russian interference in the American presidential election. “But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services.” “Today, Facebook is better prepared for these kinds of attacks,” he added. Read More

National: How to hack the midterm election with social media | CBS

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russian cyber-operatives conducted a sustained “influence campaign” cyberattack on the American electoral system by relying on social media to radicalize voters, undermine institutions, and disseminate misleading information. The efforts are ongoing in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterms — and other countries are doing it, too. Influence campaigns — coordinated efforts to create and propagate misleading and inflammatory content on social media — borrow heavily from modern internet-based marketing techniques. “[Tech] platforms are especially good at helping marketers hit a target audience with a refined message,” says Adweek technology editor Josh Sternberg. “Influence campaigns are no different. They’re effective because social media marketing is effective.” Read More

National: Trump’s New Executive Order Slaps a Bandaid on Election Interference Problems | WIRED

On Wednesday President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would automatically impose sanctions against any person or group attempting to interfere in United States elections. “The proliferation of digital devices and internet-based communications has created significant vulnerabilities and magnified the scope and intensity of the threat of foreign interference [to elections],” Trump writes in the order. “I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.” The order covers attacks not just on vote integrity and election infrastructure, but also disinformation campaigns, information leaking, propaganda, and other types of interference like what took place during the 2016 presidential campaign. Since then, efforts to improve election infrastructure defenses around the country have been uneven. President Trump himself has sent mixed messages on his willingness to prioritize election security and hold Russia accountable for its interference. Read More

National: Talks break down for bipartisan pledge to reject using hacked materials | CNN

The head of House Republicans’ campaign arm defended abruptly pulling out of late-stage negotiations with Democrats on a pledge to reject using hacked materials in election ads, citing an erosion of trust between the parties. But National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Steve Stivers, an Ohio congressman, on Friday also took his strongest public stance to date against using such illicit materials, telling reporters, “We are not seeking stolen or hacked material, we do not want stolen or hacked material, we have no intention of using stolen or hacked material.” Stivers and his Democratic counterpart, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, have been in talks since May to try to reach an agreement on a pact, which they hoped would send a strong message against election interference in the lead-up to the midterms. Read More

Australia: Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election | Financial Review

Australian intelligence and government officials are working on the best means to repel attacks from foreign actors attempting to cause unrest and interfere with the 2019 federal election via the dissemination of fake news of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. A new wave of election interference came into the spotlight following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016. Russia-linked accounts were discovered to have been circulating false stories over Facebook, Twitter and Google before the election in an attempt to whip up social and political unrest with outlandish claims which many Americans believed. Read More

Australia: Facebook working with Australian authorities to improve election integrity | AdNews

Facebook’s Australia boss Will Easton says the social media giant is working with local authorities to ensure next year’s federal election is not influenced by fake accounts and bad actors manipulating users on the social media platform, according to an interview with Fairfax Media. Easton said its policy team is working with the government on election integrity in a effort to prevent an Australian version of the Cambridge Analytica scandal where user data was harvested and then used by political strategists to manipulate and influence users to vote for Donald Trump in the US election. “Our policy team are in constant connection with the government around a number of different areas and election integrity is clearly a part of that. We’re very proactively talking to the election authorities in Australia about potential elections coming up,” he told the Fairfax Media. Read More