Digital Democracy 15–17 January


Elections under threat: Europe’s electronic voting landscape — EU Policy Blog- EU Policy Blog

A decade ago, the rest of Europe watched enviously as Estonia strengthened its democratic infrastructure, using the latest technology to become the first EU nation to introduce online voting.

France Probes Any Moscow Role in Yellow-Vest Movement- WSJ

Social media goads protesters, who include Kremlin supporters antagonistic to President Macron

Congressional Republicans also caught by Russia, so protect Trump: Ex-GOP White House lawyer-

Democrats tend not to question why Republicans in Congress stick with President Donald Trump despite his various ongoing scandals — including new reporting that the FBI investigated the possibility that the president is an actual Russian agent.

Protecting Canada in the Face of Russian Disinformation: New MLI Report- Macdonald-Laurier Institute

According to a new MLI paper titled Stemming the Virus: Understanding and responding to the threat of Russian Disinformation, the Canadian government should prepare for a protracted and aggressive information warfare campaign emanating from the Kremlin.

The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition: You Could Tip The Balance- Electronic Frontier Foundation

The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate. This week, the EU is asking its member-states to approve new negotiating positions for the final language. Once they get it, they’re planning to hold a final vote before pushing this drastic, radical new law into 28 countries and 500,000,000 people.

The Cybersecurity 202: White House emails are highly vulnerable to hackers and spammers, new data shows- The Washington Post

The White House, which has boasted of taking unprecedented actions to secure the nation’s digital infrastructure, isn’t doing enough to protect its own emails from being copycatted by hackers and spammers, according to data shared with me by the email security firm ValiMail.

The Cybersecurity 202: Is Trump’s get-tough cyber strategy working? Former officials develop a way to find out- The Washington Post

Two former government cyber officials are working on a new way for industry to measure whether the Trump administration’s surge in offensive hacking operations is successfully deterring U.S. cyber adversaries or just egging them on.

The American Military Sucks at Cybersecurity — Motherboard
A new report from US military watchdogs outlines hundreds of cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

As the Government Shutdown Drags on, Security Risks Intensify — The Wired
From potential nation state hacks to a brain drain, the shutdown has done nothing good for cybersecurity.

Germany’s data hack is a wake-up call to Europe- Financial Times

The digital security of all in the political system must be tightened ahead of elections

Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook: European Edition- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This European Edition of the D3P Cybersecurity Campaign Playbook was written by a multi-partisan and international team of experts in cybersecurity, politics, and law to provide simple, actionable ways of countering the growing cyber threat.

Hackers broke into an SEC database and made millions from inside information, says DOJ- CNBC

Federal prosecutors unveil charges against seven individuals Tuesday in an international stock-trading scheme that involved hacking into the SEC’s corporate filing database.

Largest collection ever of breached data found- The Guardian

Store of 770m email addresses and passwords discovered after being put on hacking site

The ‘Biggest EVER’ Collection of Hacked Passwords Is Not That Bad- Motherboard

Someone put together a massive list of 773 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique passwords. But there’s really no reason to panic.

Employee Falls for Fake Job Interview Over Skype, Gives North Korean Hackers Access to Chile’s ATM Network: Reportõ — Gizmodo

The one thing no one expects on a job interview is North Korean hackers picking up on the other line. But that’s apparently exactly what happened to a hapless employee at Redbanc, the company that handles Chile’s ATM network.

Report: Flaws in PremiSys access system could literally open door for physical intruders — SC Magazine

In a case of cybersecurity converging with physical security, researchers have disclosed four vulnerabilities in IDenticard Corp.’s PremiSys building access control system that attackers could exploit to sneak into restricted locations.

Trump attorney Cohen paid tech firm to manipulate poll data, report — SC Magazine

Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Trump, reportedly solicited — and paid for — a small tech firm to manipulate poll data to favor Trump in the lead-up to his presidential run.

Huawei’s reclusive founder praises Donald Trump and denies espionage allegations — The Verge
Ren Zhengfei, the reclusive, billionaire founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, has made his first public statements to foreign media in four years.

U.S. Spies to Americans: China and Russia Are Coming to Get You — The Daily Beast

The Daily BeastPacking for an overseas business trip? U.S. intelligence agencies want you to leave your phone and laptop at home. Their message: Spies are everywhere, and they are out to get you.

Here Come the Internet Blackouts– New America

On the first day of the new year, the Democratic Republic of Congo cut internet connections and SMS services nationwide — for the second day in a row. The reason? To avoid the “chaos” that might result from its presidential election results. Not even a week later, on January 7, Gabon’s government did the same after an attempted coup. While this may sound jaw-droppingly unique, it’s unlikely that these will be the last “internet blackouts” we hear about over the coming months.

BSR: Legality of Zimbabwe’s Internet Shutdown- Big Saturday Read

It is now confirmed that the Government of Zimbabwe ordered mobile network operators (MNOs) to shut down the Internet and social media communication platforms, including WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, which are widely used by Zimbabweans.

How do you fight an algorithm you cannot see? — Tech Crunch
That question in the headline was the challenge posed by a group of open knowledge junkies in Germany who wanted to understand how a person’s Schufa was calculated.

Watch this four-minute film about the future of work in a world run by algorithms — The Verge
How will you do your job when you’re outpaced by a computer? Or when the company you’re working for is taken over by algorithms? These are some of the questions explored in a stimulating new short film by designer and architect Keiichi Matsuda.

How artificial intelligence can help us make judges less biased — The Verge
As artificial intelligence moves into the courtroom, much has been written about sentencing algorithms with hidden biases.

A Poker-Playing Robot Goes to Work for the Pentagon- WIRED

A bot trained to beat poker stars could offer strategic lessons to generals simulating a future war.

This project hacks Amazon Echo and Google Home to protect your privacy — The Verge
An open-source hardware project promises to keep Amazon and Google’s smart assistants from listening in on your private conversations by constantly creating white noise, as first spotted by Fast Company.

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft face new pressure over facial recognition contracts — The Verge
On Tuesday, a group of 90 advocacy groups penned a letter to Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, requesting that the companies pledge not to sell facial recognition technology to the government

Another huge database exposed millions of call logs and SMS text messages — Tech Crunc
An unprotected server storing millions of call logs and text messages was left open for months before they were found by a security researcher. If you thought you’d heard this story before, you’re not wrong.

Pressure mounts on Google, Microsoft, and Amazon’s facial recognition tech- The Verge

On Tuesday, a group of 90 advocacy groups penned a letter to Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, requesting that the companies pledge not to sell facial recognition technology to the government.

Sprint To Stop Selling Location Data to Third Parties After Motherboard Investigation — Motherboard
After AT&T and T-Mobile said they would stop selling their customers’ phone location data to third parties, Sprint followed suit. A Motherboard investigation found all three telcos selling data that ultimately ended up in the hands of bounty hunters.

You Deserve Privacy Online. Here’s How You Could Actually Get It– TIME

In 2019, it’s time to stand up for the right to privacy — yours, mine, all of ours. Consumers shouldn’t have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives.

This problem is solvable — it isn’t too big, too challenging or too late. Innovation, breakthrough ideas and great features can go hand in hand with user privacy — and they must. Realizing technology’s potential depends on it.

How GPS Tracking Technology Can Curb Domestic Violence- WIRED

Opinion: GPS-monitored violent offenders are 95 percent less likely to commit a new crime.

The Unbearable Untidiness of Our Digital Lives- WIRED

Never-ending notifications. Pull-to-refresh rewards. There’s no escape from surveillance capitalism.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls For A New Privacy Law That Would Let You Delete Your Data- BuzzFeed

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday called on US Congress to pass a new, comprehensive federal privacy law — one that would give every American access to the personal data being collected about them by technology companies, and the ability to delete it.

This is what Google says search will look like under EU copyright laws — The Verge
Last September, the European Parliament voted in favor of the Copyright Directive: a sweeping piece of legislation intended to update copyright for the internet age, but critics said it would fundamentally break the internet.

Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from Russia- Facebook Newsroom

Today we removed multiple Pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. The two operations we found originated in Russia, and one was active in a variety of countries while the other was specific to Ukraine. We didn’t find any links between these operations, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.

Facebook Identifies Russia-Linked Misinformation Campaign- The New York Times

Facebook has been under pressure to more aggressively counter the spread of misinformation and manipulation of the social network that is aimed at stirring division and discord

Facebook disables hundreds of accounts tied to Russian news agency for hiding their identity- The Washington Post

Facebook on Thursday said it had removed hundreds of pages that originated in Russia for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its site, including a network of accounts that touched on regional weather and sports but actually served as a way for Russian state-owned media to secretly reach social media users.

Facebook Pulls More Russia-Linked Accounts- WSJ

Social-media giant Facebook goes further in its effort to crack down on misuse of its service

Facebook removes hundreds of pages ‘linked to Russian site’- The Guardian

Social network says it has taken down 289 pages connected to Kremlin-backed news website

Facebook Removes Hundreds Of Fake Pages, Accounts ‘Linked’ To Russia’s Sputnik- RFERL

Facebook has removed hundreds of pages, groups, and accounts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms that the U.S. company says were part of two online disinformation operations targeting users across the former Soviet space.

Facebook removes more pages, accounts with Russia links — Raw Story
Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had removed hundreds of Russia-initiated pages, accounts and groups that it judged to be involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior on its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

Facebook finds and kills another 512 Kremlin-linked fake accounts — Tech Crunch
Two years on from the U.S. presidential election, Facebook continues to have a major problem with Russian disinformation being megaphoned via its social tools.

Facebook Has Removed Hundreds Of Pages And Accounts Linked To Russia For “Inauthentic Behavior”- BuzzFeed

Facebook has announced that it has removed hundreds of Pages, groups, and accounts on Thursday that originated in Russia and were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook’s Sputnik Takedown — Top Takeaways — Disinfoportal
Facebook removed almost 300 pages from its platform for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” across the former-Soviet space on January 17, 2018.

Facebook Accuses Staff at Russia’s Sputnik of Fake Accounts- Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. said it disrupted two campaigns run by fake accounts with links to Russia and its Sputnik news service as it continues to grapple with misinformation on its platform.

The fight against fake accounts: five lessons learned– Propastop

The sequence of events that started with Propastop’s uncovering fake news has led many of the #ESTexitEU topic related fake accounts to be now be closed. How did we arrive at this result and what can we learn about the incident for the future?

I Mentored Mark Zuckerberg. I Loved Facebook. But I Can’t Stay Silent About What’s Happening.– Time

Recently, Facebook has done some things that are truly horrible, and I can no longer excuse its behavior.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Bad New Year’s Resolution- Slate

The Facebook CEO wants a conversation about “the future of technology in society.” But he’s framing the debate badly.

Facebook Users Still Don’t Know How Facebook Works — The Atlantic
After all the scandals and hubbub and congressional testimony and mea culpas in Facebook’s nearly 15 years of existence, one would think that its users would have a pretty firm grasp on how the business works.

Most Facebook users still in the dark about its creepy ad practices, Pew finds — Tech Crunch
A study by the Pew Research Center suggests most Facebook users are still in the dark about how the company tracks and profiles them for ad-targeting purposes.

Don’t underestimate Americans’ knowledge of Facebook’s business model — The Verge
As part of its ongoing study of attitudes about Facebook, Pew Research today released some new data on how well people understand the fundamentals of ad targeting.

Most Facebook users don’t know that it records a list of their interests, new study finds — The Verge
Seventy-four percent of Facebook users are unaware that Facebook records a list of their interests for ad-targeting purposes, according to a new study from the Pew Institute.

Most Users Still Don’t Know How Facebook Advertising Works- WIRED

A new Pew survey also finds that more than 50 percent of Facebook users are uncomfortable with how the company collects their information for ads.

Facebook urged to give users greater control over what they see — Tech Crunch
Academics at the universities of Oxford and Stanford think Facebook should give users greater transparency and control over the content they see on its platform.

Facebook Is Bringing In Stricter Ad Rules For Countries Going To The Polls In The Next Few Months- BuzzFeed

Facebook is expanding its tools for curbing election interference on its platform to Nigeria, Ukraine, India, and the European Union before they go to the polls in the next few months, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

Facebook is launching political ad checks in Nigeria, Ukraine, EU and India in coming months — Tech Crunch
Facebook is launching some of its self-styled ‘election security’ initiatives into more markets in the coming months ahead of several major votes in countries around the world.

Facebook to invest $300 million to help local news survive — Raw Story
Facebook Inc will invest $300 million over three years in local news globally as it faces blistering criticism over its role in the erosion of the news business worldwide.

Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’ Is Just a Harmless Meme — Right?- WIRED

Opinion: The 2009 vs. 2019 profile picture trend may or may not have been a data collection ruse to train its facial recognition algorithm.

Google and Facebook employees are teaming up against their bosses — The Verge
Last week we wrote about a pair of new lawsuits against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, alleging that the board acted improperly in which it agreed to pay out tens of millions of dollars to executives who had been found to have committed sexual misconduct.

Twitter bug revealed some Android users’ private tweets- TechCrunch

Twitter accidentally revealed some users’ “protected” (aka, private) tweets, the company disclosed this afternoon. The “Protect your Tweets” setting typically allows people to use Twitter in a non-public fashion. These users get to approve who can follow them and who can view their content. For some Android users over a period of several years, that may not have been the case — their tweets were actually made public as a result of this bug.

A Twitter bug exposed some Android users’ protected tweets for years — The Verge
If you’ve used Twitter on your Android phone anytime since 2014, you might want to double-check your settings. Twitter disclosed on its Help Center page today that some Android users had their private tweets revealed for years due to a security flaw.

Netflix Agreed To Self-Regulate Its Content In India. Critics Say It’s Censorship.- BuzzFeed

The streaming giant, along with eight other streaming services, voluntarily agreed to ban contentious content — but critics say it’s censorship.

Roku pulls InfoWars channel citing complaints from ‘concerned parties’ — The Verge
After an intense social media backlash, Roku has backtracked on its decision to allow the InfoWars channel on its service.

Roku Drops InfoWars and Alex Jones After Social Media Pressure — The Daily Beast
The Daily BeastStreaming platform Roku dropped its channel for InfoWars late on Tuesday, in a reversal that comes hours after the streaming network had said the conspiracy theory outlet didn’t violate its content policies.

Roku now deleting Infowars from its platform after customer outcry — Tech Crunch
Roku is deleting the Infowars channel from its platform, a couple days after adding it as a supported channel.

WhatsApp to push back against Indian crackdown on encryption- Financial Times

Facebook-owned messaging app has more than 210m users in India, its largest market

Three Painful Truths About Social Media- Project MUSE

Social media have taken a beating lately. The gloss has worn off the large companies that dominate the sector, and with it much of the internet. Facebook, Google, and Twitter, among others, have all been subjected to intense scrutiny because of the negative externalities that their services create.

Hate campaigns advice kit for journalists — What you should do- Journalists in Finland

Journalisti magazine has published a pull-out / download and print advice kit for journalists who are subject to online hate speech, and for their colleagues and supervisors. The idea is to have the poster displayed prominently in newsrooms.

The latest front in Russian infiltration: America’s right-wing homeschooling movement– ThinkProgress

This is the latest connection between Russia and the American religious right.

There have never been any Russian forces in Ukraine!? — Disinfoportal
On Monday the pro-Kremlin media claimed that Russia is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine because there is a civil war there. They also said that there have never been and are no Russian armed forces in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine Under Information Fire- Disinfo Portal

Almost five years into the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlin’s use of the information weapon against Ukraine has not decreased; Ukraine still stands out as the most misrepresented country in pro-Kremlin media.

How does the Kremlin influence the Russian diaspora abroad?– Integrity Initiative

The Russian-speaking diaspora abroad is quite numerous in many Western countries and is made up of many different waves of emigration — from descendants of White Russian émigrés to those who are arriving today. However, all these waves are characterized by a fairly high level of support for Vladimir Putin. It’s especially surprising to see such sentiments amongst people who emigrated in Soviet times, not so much for economic reasons but rather in search of freedom. However, even among them, support is quite high for a president who is far from democratic and rules a Russia that is far from free.

Don’t be fooled by Redfish and its Kremlin propaganda- CapX

The Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 claimed 71 lives. It was a horrific tragedy and a colossal failing of public safety. If you were to watch a three-part film on YouTube titled Failed by the State: The Struggle in the Shadow of Grenfell, you’d learn that it was also an exemplar of the “cruelties of global capitalism”. In fact the Grenfell documentary comes from a stable that is well used to misrepresentation and falsehood, as it’s a subsidiary of the Russian state propaganda outlet RT (formerly known as Russia Today). You wouldn’t immediately know that it’s a production by RT because the media organisation that made it is remarkably coy about the fact. It’s called Redfish.

Fukuyama Was Right (Mostly)- The American Interest

Francis Fukuyama’s central contention still rings true: There is no conceivable ideological rival to liberal democracy.