Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images President Trump told The Washington Post that he authorized a 2018 cyberattack on the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), the first time he’s acknowledged doing so. In an interview with Post columnist Marc Thiessen, Trump confirmed that the attack— which the Post reported on last year— started on the day of the 2018 midterm and was successful in disrupting a disinformation campaign by Russia that was meant to raise doubt about the midterm results. “Look, we stopped it,” the president told Thiessen. In 2016, the IRA operated a troll factory as part of Russia’s overall election meddling, which also included stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee. In the past, President Trump had questioned whether Russia was involved... Continue reading…
A rise in social media surveillance, warrantless searches of travelers’ devices at the border, and the continued spread of disinformation are among the reasons why the U.S. has declined in internet freedom rankings, according to a leading non-profit watchdog.Although Freedom House said that the U.S. enjoys some of the greatest internet freedoms in the world, its placement in the worldwide rankings declined for the third year in a row.Iceland and Estonia remained at the top of the charts, according to the rankings, with China and Iran ranking with the least free internet.The report said that digital platforms, including social media, have emerged as the “new battleground” for democracy, where governments would traditionally use censorship and site-blocking technologies.State and partisan actors have used disinformation and propaganda to distort facts and opinions during elections in dozens of countries over the past year, including the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and the 2019 European Parliament elections.“Many governments are finding that on social media, propaganda works better than censorship,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.
Without taking sides, brands can show their commitment to social impact by promoting two things everyone can get behind: voter registration and voter turnout.Last year saw the highest voter turnout for a Midterm Election in 100 years, and now the race for the White House will surely lead to record-setting amounts of press coverage and partisan spending.But it’s brands, media companies and technology platforms that truly have the power to reach and mobilize Americans.Whether it falls under cause marketing, government relations or corporate social responsibility, dozens of major companies—from Starbucks to The Gap to Lyft—are promoting civic participation.A Harvard’s Kennedy School study concluded that, for the 2018 Midterm Elections, “companies’ civic engagement strategies not only helped get voters to the polls, but created additional business value.”Here are a few tips for any company looking to get the vote out in 2020.
Being a professional hacker has never been more straightforward and lucrative than it is today.According to cyberdefense experts at Microsoft, cybercrime will be a $6 trillion industry by 2022.Hacking tools are available on the dark web for as little as $500 dollars, and some are sold with 24-hour support.The ubiquity of low-cost hacking tools means that elections in the United States and all over the world are persistently threatened by a large and diverse set of hackers.Spikes in malware and phishing attacks targeting political campaigns have been detected during recent elections in Russia, Turkey, Colombia, Azerbaijan and Mali; keyloggers and Trojans were detected in key battleground states ahead of the 2018 US midterm election; and according to the Department of Homeland Security, during the 2016 election all 50 states saw some type of attempted cyberintrusion."When you think about attacks on electoral systems not just here in the US but globally," said Ann Johnson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Cybersecurity Solutions Group, "the scale is almost hard to imagine."
Israel responded to a Hamas cyberattack by blowing up the building that apparently housed the responsible hacking group, a new escalation in cyberwar doctrine.Google for the first time lets you limit how long it keeps your data—so go do that.We also took a look inside China’s draconian surveillance of the Muslim Uyghur population, and explained why yet another major dark web takedown hasn’t actually rattled the underground internet drug trade.We explained why artificial intelligence doesn’t actually “hallucinate,” as had previously been thought, and what the practice known as application shielding does—and doesn’t—do to keep code safe from hackers.We traced the strange journey of a wicked NSA zero-day that multiple hackers got their hands on illicitly, and detailed the failings of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, currently being used to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.As always, click on the headlines to read the full stories.
Decentralized betting protocol Augur is dealing with a situation: fraudsters can illegitimately profit by gaming the system, and there’s not much its devs can do about it (for now).Augur co-founder Joey Krug recently addressed community concerns about scammers taking over the platform.Token holders are encouraged to come to consensus over the outcome of a particular bet (say, that it will rain in New York on Thursday), and a system of smart contracts distributes the winnings.Bad news: nothing can be done until Augur 2.0 arrivesBelow is one example of the “invalid market” scam.This seems like a standard Augur market, which encourages cryptocurrency users to wager on what they think the price of Ethereum will be at the end of this month ($0-100, $100-1,000, or over $1,000).
A few days after last year’s midterm election, a Google policy manager and lobbyist sent an email to a congressional staffer with a link to a blog post on the right-wing news site Red State, written under the name The Real DC.In the post, the author accuses Google’s competitor Yelp of prodding President Trump to tweet a “professionally designed” video about Google’s alleged bias, which The Real DC calls “fake news,” because it “bears many similarities” to content produced by Yelp.The posts touched on a range of policy issues, such as mortgages, ticket sales, and shareholder rights."We are transparent about our policy work—we disclose all significant affiliations and grants on our transparency page and we require all people whose work or research we fund to disclose that fact,” the spokesperson said in a statement.In the latest sign of the more hostile environment for tech, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren last week issued a far-reaching plan to break up dominant tech platforms; she suggested Google be required to unwind its acquisitions of Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick.At the hearing, Hawley, who launched an investigation into Google while he was Missouri attorney general, also challenged Joshua Wright, a former Trump adviser and professor at George Mason University, who wrote academic research funded indirectly by Google and criticized a Federal Trade Commission probe into Google before joining the agency as a commissioner from 2013 to 2015.
Despite fried RAID and deleted hard drives, Federal News Agency calls US Cyber Command attack a failureA Russian new service is claiming that US attacks on it and an organisation accused of state-sponsored trolling has left storage systems damaged and international servers wiped after multiple malware attacks.The Russian Federal News Agency (FAN) alleged earlier this week that US Cyber Command conducted an online attack against the self-described news organization in conjunction with Cyber Command's reported offensive operation against the Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organization based in St. Petersburg that US officials blame for spreading misinformation through social media to sow discord and interfere with elections.The report lends support to claims that the US military conducted offensive cyber operations in Russia last year to prevent interference with the 2018 midterm elections.The publisher is said to have served as a conduit for concealing Project Lakhta activities and as such is currently subject to Treasury Department sanctions.Two weeks ago, General Paul Nakasone, head of US Cyber Command, hinted at Russia-focused operations in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Freshman Congresswomen and meme queen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is headed to Netflix.The streaming service said this week that it has snapped up ‘Knock Down the House,’ a Sundance award-winning documentary profiling the campaigns of four female progressive candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez, in the 2018 midterm election.The documentary raised money via a Kickstarter campaign last year and it grabbed the Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, beating 121 other contenders to land the highest number of audience votes.That acclaim and the rising star of Ocasio-Cortez looks to have made the picture a hot commodity.Deadline reports that Netflix is spending $10 million to secure the film, a price that — if true — would make it the most expensive Sundance documentary deal to date.It apparently beat off competition from NEON, Focus, Hulu and Amazon to land the production, according to Deadline.
Facebook just announced its latest round of “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” this time out of Iran.The company took down 262 Pages, 356 accounts, three Facebook groups and 162 Instagram accounts that exhibited “malicious-looking indicators” and patterns that identify it as potentially state-sponsored or otherwise deceptive and coordinated activity.As Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher noted in a press call, Facebook coordinated closely with Twitter to discover these accounts, and by collaborating early and often the company “[was] able to use that to build up our own investigation.” Today, Twitter published a postmortem on its efforts to combat misinformation during the U.S. midterm election last year.As the Newsroom post details, the activity affected a broad swath of areas around the globe:There were multiple sets of activity, each localized for a specific country or region, including Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, US, and Yemen.The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events… on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
We’ll look to answer these questions over the next six months in a series of workshops around the world where we will convene experts and organizations who work on a range of issues such as free expression, technology and democracy, procedural fairness and human rights.We’ll host these workshops in Singapore, Delhi, Nairobi, Berlin, New York, Mexico City and many more cities — soliciting feedback on how best to design a board that upholds our principles and brings independent judgment to hard cases.Afterward, each outgoing member will choose their own successor.At Wired, Issie Lapowsky likes the general idea but worries that the sheer size of Facebook will make the system described in the draft charter unworkable:No team, no matter the size or scope, could ever adequately consider every viewpoint represented on Facebook.But so much Facebook criticism starts from the observation that the company has unprecedented size and power — and so to see it devolve power back to its own community, even in a limited way, feels worthy of encouragement.
Facebook today removed multiple accounts, Pages, groups, and Instagram profiles that were related to Russian networks.The accounts in question were masquerading as news organizations and interest pages to spread misinformation.The pages and accounts were linked to employees of defamed Russian state publication Sputnik, which was previously downranked by Google for spreading false information.These accounts ran seemingly legit news and general-interest pages related to topics like sports and travel to build sizable audiences, and later began adding propaganda posts from Sputnik into their mix of content.In a separate post, Facebook’s partner in detecting misinformation, DFRLab describes that Sputnik used multiple techniques like cross-posting between pages, and creating fan pages to boost these posts.Facebook‘s head of Cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, said that these accounts and pages operated in multiple ex-Soviet countries:
Now, Van Bramer and Gianaris are teaming up with local activist groups to protest Amazon’s plans on Wednesday.Here’s David Sirota in Capital & Main:Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim announced that he will introduce legislation to slash New York’s economic development subsidies and use the money to buy up and cancel student debt — a move he said would provide a bigger boost to the state’s economy.The “city and Google went to extraordinary lengths to keep the public in the dark.”The agreements are invalid under San Jose’s municipal code, which restricts officials from entering into contracts without council approval, and violate state law barring agencies from letting outside parties control disclosures to the public, the plaintiffs said.But it’s hard not to feel today as if the company misread the room — overestimating the public’s appetite for a billion-dollar giveaway to one of the world’s biggest companies, and underestimating the public’s ability to raise hell on- and offline.
We saw the first black woman elected to Congress in the state of Massachusetts, the first woman in the Senate in Tennessee and the first female governors in Maine and South Dakota.Kansas also elected a Native American woman and saw their first openly LGBTQ candidate to win a major office.I could go on for 20 more minutes, a fact that leaves me breathless.If you want anything done, ask a woman.”According to Axios, more women are registered to vote than men, women vote in higher numbers compared to men and there’s been a gender gap in every midterm election since 2006 and every presidential election since 1980.Incredible numbers of female candidates are leading the policy conversation around preserving the Affordable Care Act and defending the coverage of pre-existing conditions, an issue that affects more than a quarter of adults under 65.
Democrats, who generally favor rules barring internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from blocking or otherwise discriminating against content, took control of the House.And even after losing ground in the Senate, the party is tantalizingly close to having enough support from Senate Republicans to pass new net neutrality protections.Last May, the Senate approved legislation that would have restored the Federal Communications Commission's Obama-era net neutrality protections, which the FCC voted to jettison last year.Three Senate Republicans—Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—joined all Senate Democrats in voting for the legislation.Depending on the outcome of a few too-close-to-call Senate races, it’s still possible that both chambers will have majorities that support net neutrality next year—assuming the three Republicans who voted in May to restore the rules have not changed their positions.But one thing is clear: Backers of a bill would need to move quickly, before the 2020 campaign consumes Washington.
Georgia’s secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download.Kemp’s office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot — including their reason why, such as if a person is “disabled” or “elderly.”People on Twitter quickly noticed, expressing anger.Brian Kemp is so good at his job as GA's secretary of state that he just posted the full names and addresses of everyone who filed an absentee ballot.— macho ayn randy savage (@hooper_x) November 7, 2018The file, according to the web page, allows Georgia residents to “check the status of your mail-in absentee ballot.” Millions of Americans across the country mail in their completed ballots ahead of election day, particularly if getting to a polling place is difficult — such as if a person is disabled, elderly or traveling.
It may not have been the tsunami some expected, but the Democrat's long-promised blue wave was enough to carry the party to a majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.For the tech industry, that's both good news and bad news.The tech industry also faces a notably less cozy environment in the Senate after Tuesday night.As a House representative, Blackburn battled tech giants at nearly every turn.Backed by the telecom industry, she opposed net neutrality protections and voted to overturn an Obama-era rule that would have required broadband providers to get people's permission before selling their browsing data.The Texas senator defended his seat against Democratic insurgent Beto O'Rourke, whose campaign was heavily financed by the tech industry.
In 2018, elections are something of a tech story, thanks to the impact of social media and the potential, terrifying effects of hackers getting involved.Ah yes, the world we inhabit has changed much in the last two years, regardless of which way you swing.We're all different people compared with the ones who voted in 2016.Elon Musk stuck his on his forehead:And of course the internet had a field day with that one.In the early going there was a broad, general joy at taking part in the democratic process.
But the battle rages in the courts as supporters challenge the repeal of the rules and the Federal Communications Commission challenges states that are passing their own net neutrality rules.Many people agree with the basic principle of net neutrality – the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally – but plans for realizing that uncontroversial concept have been a lightning rod for conflict.Hr took the FCC back to a "light touch" approach to regulation, pleasing both Republicans and internet service providers.We've assembled this FAQ to put everything in plain English.The regulation prohibited broadband providers from blocking or slowing traffic and banned them from offering so-called fast lanes to companies willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors.The FCC, led by Ajit Pai, voted on Dec. 14 to repeal the 2015 net neutrality regulations.
It's Election Day, and there are long lines of people waiting to vote out there.A nonprofit group called Pizza to the Polls wants to feed them.Friends Katie Harlow, Noah Manger and Scott Duncombe founded the site in 2016 as news spread that year of long lines at the polls.The three friends soon needed help, so they recruited and trained a team of over 20 volunteers from across the US, England and Australia to order and coordinate delivery of 2,368 pizzas to 128 polling places across 24 states.At the end of the 2016 election, they'd raised $43,307 from 1,728 donors, and their efforts had served up 25,000 slices of pizza."Ain't nothing partisan about trying to make voting less of a drag," the group says in its FAQ.