Dispatch (August 5th) from the Alliance for Securing Democracy

Our Take

Participating in our democracy is one important way to protect it, argued Director Laura Rosenberger in an interview with the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must come together to secure American elections, Head of Policy and Research Jessica Brandt told ABC7 News.

Moscow seeks to undermine Americans’ confidence in the election system and erode social cohesion, Non-Resident Fellow Clint Watts and Media and Disinformation Fellow Bret Schafer observed on MSNBC.

The fusion of mass surveillance and artificial intelligence is enabling a more effective digital authoritarianism, wrote Advisory Council member Jake Sullivan and Kurt Campbell in Foreign Affairs.

Establishing stronger institutional mechanisms to counter foreign interference in European democracies should be a top priority for the European Union, assertedResearch Assistant Etienne Soula in a blog post.

Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report highlighted the need for improved protocols for information-sharing on election threats noted Research Assistant Brad Hanlon in a blog post.

News and Commentary

Facebook takes down accounts linked to Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia: Last week, Facebook announced that it took down hundreds of accounts, groups, and event pages originating in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for coordinated inauthentic behavior. The accounts promoted content related to local politics and elections, impersonated public figures, and artificially increased engagement with that content. Facebook also removed over 200 accounts with links to the government of Saudi Arabia that posted criticism of neighboring countries such as Iran and Turkey. These campaigns illustrate that state actors are utilizing and innovating on interference tactics pioneered by the Russian government. ASD Non-resident Fellow Clint Watts has outlined various ways foreign manipulators use propaganda to distort reality and manipulate the perceptions of online audiences. (Facebook Newsroom, ASD).

Australia launches new probes into Chinese government-linked interference:Australian officials announced sweeping investigations into the operations of Melbourne-based casino, Crown Resorts, which reportedly helped wealthy Chinese nationals receive fast-track visas and launder billions of dollars. Many of the Chinese customers involved are affiliated with crime groups, as well as the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. The probe has raised questions about lax laws in democratic countries that allow criminals to move and hide wealth, occasionally to advance the political agendas of authoritarian governments. The ASD European Policy Blueprint For Countering Authoritarian Interference in Democracies proposes various recommendations to combat foreign interference by cracking down on malign-finance schemes. (Sydney Morning Herald, ASD)

In Other News

• Google blocked sites approved by DarkMatter, a cybersecurity firm with links to Emirati-intelligence hacking operations.

• The United States imposed additional sanctions on Russia for its March 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, UK.

• China will stop issuing its citizens visas to visit Taiwan, a move aimed at influencing the island nation ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

• Germany passed an anti-money laundering law that grants investigators increased access to data.

• Hackers compromised the bank information of 100 million Americans in the Capital One data breach, one of the largest in recent history.

• Google researchers disclosed vulnerabilities in Apple’s iMessage software that could enable hackers to steal data or crash apps.

• Software bugs in Facebook’s ad library impede efforts to understand political advertising on the site, according to Mozilla researchers.