With midterm elections looming and primaries already underway in many states, anxiety has been building over the possibility of cyberattacks that could impact voting. Though officials and election security researchers alike are adamant that voters can trust the United States election system, they also acknowledge shortcomings of the current security setup. Little time remains to meaningfully improve election security before the midterms. But Google parent company Alphabet’s experimental incubator Jigsaw announced on Tuesday that it will start offering free protection from distributed denial of service attacks to US political campaigns. DDoS attacks overload a site or service with junk traffic so that legitimate users can’t access it. For the last two years, Jigsaw’s Project Shield has focused on fighting DDoS where it might be used for censorship around the world, offering free defenses to journalists, small publications, human rights groups, and election board sites. Now, those tremendous resources and that technical expertise will extend to political campaigns.
For about an hour on the night of a primary election in May, residents in Knox County, Tennessee, couldn’t tell who was winning. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, wants to prevent. The company is already expecting even more DDoS attacks as Election Day in the US, on Nov. 6, draws closer. “We have seen that attacks spike in election cycles in different parts of the world,” said George Conard, a product manager for Jigsaw’s Project Shield., crashing the page at 8 p.m., right as polls were closing. The county’s IT director, Dick Moran, said the website had seen “extremely heavy and abnormal network traffic.” Its mayor called for an investigation into the cyberattack. The incident showed all the signs of a distributed denial-of-service attack — when attackers flood a website’s servers with traffic until they can’t handle the incoming requests and crash. And it was just the kind of thing that Jigsaw, a tech incubator owned by
For the upcoming elections, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute has signed a deal with Google to help Mexican voters. The new deal with the Internet search giant will see them provide extensive information about electoral candidates while also providing citizens with voting-related services. Google will provide online information such as the location of ballot boxes through Google Maps, candidate information, live streaming of presidential debates via YouTube and even instructions on how to vote.
National: Fiery exchanges on Capitol Hill as lawmakers scold Facebook, Google and Twitter | The Washington Post
Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry. “I don’t think you get it,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes all three companies. “What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.”
National: Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms | The Washington Post
Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation. The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site. The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.
Google has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to become entangled in a widening investigation into how online social networks and technology products may have played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. On Friday evening, Google said it would cooperate with congressional inquiries into the election, days after Facebook and Twitter provided evidence to investigators of accounts on their networks that were linked to Russian groups. Google was called to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Nov. 1. Google has also begun an internal investigation into whether its advertising products and services were used as part of a Russia-linked influence campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke anonymously because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the issue. Exactly when the inquiry began is not known, but it has been discussed inside Google over recent weeks, the person said. The Wall Street Journal reported the internal investigation earlier.
Google is pulling another lever on its influential search engine in an effort to boost voter turnout in November’s U.S. presidential election. Beginning Tuesday, Google will provide a summary box detailing state voting laws at the top of the search results whenever a user appears to be looking for that information. The breakdown will focus on the rules particular to the state where the search request originates unless a user asks for another location. Google is introducing the how-to-vote instructions a month after it unveiled a similar feature that explains how to register to vote in states across the U.S.
The search giant said its campaign is driven by rabid public interest in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As of last week, it said, the volume of search requests tied to the election, the candidates and key campaign issues had more than quadrupled compared to a similar point in the 2012 presidential race.
National: Google Search To Offer State-Specific Voter Registration Guide Ahead Of 2016 Elections | Tech Times
With the election season just around the corner in the U.S., Google is getting in on the action and looking to make things easier for prospective voters. Google Search will simplify the registration process for voters as it will offer state-specific voter registration guides prior to the 2016 presidential elections in November. On Monday, July 18, the Alphabet subsidiary will push out the new search functionality, which will aid users in registering to vote before the elections. “Starting on Monday, we’re introducing a new tool in Search to simplify the voter registration process to make it easier for you to have your voice heard,” revealed Google on July 15. When you type “register to vote” or a similar query in Google Search post July 18, you will be greeted with state-specific and in-depth guidelines on how you can register to vote, the eligibility criteria and the deadline for your state. All these details will be reflected at the top of the search page, as well as the Google app.
When President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he’ll mention an array of programs and people. And all across America, fingers will start flying on computer keyboards as millions of curious viewers go to Google or Bing or Yahoo in search of more detail on those programs and people. It’s the way we make sense of the world around us in the Internet age. Everything’s on the web; just look it up and you’ll be enlightened, right? Not necessarily, say the authors of a 2015 study into the ways search engines can influence voter behavior, and perhaps even the outcomes of elections. Depending on how the search engine results are displayed, or if they are manipulated, you could end up misguided rather than enlightened.
Editorials: How Facebook and Google’s Algorithms Are Affecting Our Political Viewpoints | Megan Anderle/Huffington Post
Plenty of users take what they read online at face value, which some social experiments have proven. The average user often doesn’t check facts or consider whether the source is credible. “You look at a Wikipedia article and assume that it all must be true,” said Christo Wilson, a computer science professor at Northeastern University who researched algorithms and personalization extensively. “Or you search for something on Google and think the results are subjective and correct off the bat.” And then there are algorithms on top of every social network and search engine, providing users with personalized, and ultimately skewed, results. Algorithms are a mystery to researchers.