Democracy under siege: tech firms step in


Tech companies, which have been pilloried for nearly two years for not doing enough to combat disinformation, increasingly are acting in urgent, public ways, The Washington Post reports:

Microsoft has announced detecting hacking attempts on politicians and think tanks. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have closed Russian and Iranian disinformation accounts. Twitter has become more aggressive in tackling its long-standing problem with fake and automated accounts, called “bots,” suspending tens of millions of suspicious accounts each month……

By waging their information warfare on turf that is almost entirely in the private sector, Russia and other foreign adversaries have exploited the fact that their battleground is off-limits to unfettered government surveillance. That means that federal agencies such as the National Security Agency and the FBI do not have a holistic view of what is happening inside these networks, putting much of the burden on the private sector to detect and thwart malicious behavior.

“The NSA will never see all of these threats,” said Eric Rosenbach, a former senior Pentagon official who runs the Defending Digital Democracy project at Harvard University. “We would never want the NSA to be positioned to see all of these threats. So it will have to be Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, working together to exchange threat information and taking actions on their own.”

On Wednesday, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former security chief, also weighed in with a post on the Lawfare blog calling on the American government to step up its cybersecurity efforts and curb foreign election meddling, The New York Times adds.

“America’s adversaries,” he wrote, “believe that it is still both safe and effective to attack U.S. democracy using American technologies and the freedoms we cherish.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email