Despite the severity of the attack on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there has been no bipartisan, independent commission to investigate what can be done to prevent election interference in the future — until now.
In Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and Beyond, Stanford University experts in cybersecurity, Russia, technology and American electoral regulations present more than 45 policy recommendations to help U.S. lawmakers and technology-sector leaders stop potential threats to the American electoral process.
This group of Stanford scholars — all of whom are associated with the new Cyber Policy Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) — presented their recommendations at the day-long event “Securing Our Cyber Future: Innovative Approaches to Digital Threats” on June 6.
America needs to focus on what needs to be done to prevent interference in the future — from concrete legislative acts to steps online platforms can take even without legislation, FSI director Michael McFaul told the packed house in Encina Hall.
“Securing American Elections” rounds out the Mueller Report, McFaul told the audience. The FSI document looks at actions taken by both the Obama and Trump administrations, includes a chapter focusing on traditional media along with specific policy recommendations.
The report’s policy recommendations discussed throughout the event’s morning sessions included:
- Increasing the security of the U.S. election infrastructure through both code inspections and test attacks by teams who would attempt actions that real hackers would take;
- Enhancing transparency about foreign involvement in U.S. elections by banning the use of foreign consultants and companies in U.S. political campaigns and by publishing information about campaign connections with foreign nationals and governments;
- Preventing election-manipulation efforts from foreign media organizations by identifying media produced by news outlets supported by state governments;
- Regulating online political advertising by prohibiting foreign governments and individuals from purchasing online advertisements that target the American electorate; and
- Establishing international norms to prevent election interference by appointing a designated U.S. government representative on election interference.
The afternoon sessions offered an introduction to the research objectives of each of the four programs within the Cyber Policy Center: The Stanford Internet Observatory; the Program on Geopolitics, Technology and Governance; the Global Digital Policy Incubator; and the Program on Democracy and the Internet.
“As information pervades nearly every aspect of life, there is an unprecedented demand for new knowledge about how to help individuals and societies exploit the tremendous positive potential of digital technologies while safeguarding individual liberties, preserving democracy and promoting peace and security,” said FSI senior fellow and Stanford Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily, who is co-director of the Cyber Policy Center and director of the center’s Program on Internet and Democracy. “The time to seize this moment is now.”