June 29, 2020 — The coronavirus has exacerbated the threat of electoral interference, said journalists and legislative experts in a webinar Monday.
Panelists joined the George Washington University Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics for a discussion about electoral interference in 2016 and beyond.
Maria Ressa, a Filipino journalist who founded Rappler, shared her story of being convicted of “cyber libel” for publishing a story the Filipino government deemed false news.
In the leadup to her arrest, Ressa said, she faced increased abuse online that has continued ever since.
“Americans [should] keep track of what’s happening to us, because what’s happening in the Philippines is your dystopian future,” she said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said that foreign attempts to interfere with Americans online often seek to sow distrust in its institutions, namely the media, and that the potential for continued harm amid the coronavirus has only increased.
“The pandemic, I think, is the fault line of all fault lines,” he said. “In terms of the Russians’ capacity to cause Americans to trust their own democracy there is probably no more fertile ground… The doubt that a hostile power can create by amplifying [a] false message could be quite disastrous.”
Deepfake videos have an oversized ability to influence public discourse, Schiff said. For example, a falsified video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed and pitch-shifted to make it appear as if she was inebriated quickly became popular online.
“I asked the experts, ‘If 10 million people saw that doctored video of the speaker, how many million could you reasonably predict would ultimately find out that that video was inauthentic?’” he said. “And the expert answer was, ‘You’d be lucky if one to two million of the ten million ever found out that it had been changed.’”
Dominic LeBlanc, former Canadian Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, suggested several measures that he believes has assisted Canada in the struggle for independent and reliable elections.
One such measure is Critical Elections Incident Public Protocols, which notify Canadian citizens and warn then in the case of a threat to electoral integrity.
Another, he said, is a unified effort on the part of different governmental agencies to shut down threats to democracy.
Combined, LeBlanc expressed his belief that the threat of foreign intervention can be effectively curbed.
“We’re hard at work evaluating these initiatives — what worked and what didn’t work — as well as what we would have like [the last election cycle] in order to ensure that we’re ready for the next national election,” he said.
- Online Speech Has Harmful Effects on Both Individuals and Society, According to Mary Anne Franks
- Pandemic Has Created an Environment for Consumer Fraud, Say Congressional Leaders
- Breakfast Media Minute: July 10, 2020
- Metrics and Automation Can Improve Federal Cybersecurity Measures
- Federal Communications Commission Must Reconsider Ligado Offer, Says Former Commissioner
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Fiber1 month ago
Fiber Networks Hold a Cybersecurity Advantage Over Rival Co-Axial and Wireless Technologies, Say Panelists
Artificial Intelligence3 weeks ago
Brookings Panelists Emphasize Importance of Addressing Biases in Artificial Intelligence Technology
Artificial Intelligence1 week ago
U.S. State Department Employing Artificial Intelligence Against COVID-19 Misinformation
Congress1 month ago
Partisan Disagreement Delays Broadband Funding That Might Come Through HEROES Act
Broadband Roundup1 week ago
Artificial Intelligence Task Force, State Cybersecurity, ADTRAN Offers Rural Funding Guidance
#broadbandlive3 weeks ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 – Federal Broadband Funds and Opportunity Zones
Expert Opinion1 month ago
Gary Bolton: Under the Stress of COVID-19, the Networks That Held Fast Were Symmetrical Fiber Broadband
Education2 weeks ago
A Mix of Resources and Technologies Are Needed to Close the Homework Gap