“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing sites and create or distribute related content (to these sites) on social networks in order to spread false information,” in At the time of the election, the FBI and the US cyber security agency warned in a statement.
Such actions would seek to discredit the electoral process and erode public confidence in American democratic institutions, according to the two institutions.
US authorities expect an increased use of voting by mail, which would extend the counting period and could delay the election result by a few days.
This time frame could be used by malicious actors to spread misinformation messages about election fraud or pirated voting infrastructure in order to ‘convince the public of the illegitimacy of elections’.
The FBI and the US cyber security agency are calling on voters to thoroughly check the sources of the information they consult and to report any suspected disinformation operations to the authorities.
Social media giants said they had detected numerous efforts to question the fairness of the US election.
Donald Trump himself has regularly questioned the reliability of voting by mail, a method appreciated and verified in the US, crucial in this period of health crisis, notes AFP.
Over the past decade, Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes have legally targeted an estimated $ 300 million in 33 countries to influence democratic procedures, with more than 100 cases known. Russia has offered loans to French politicians, generous gifts to officials of Swiss police institutions and media services around the world. The Chinese Communist Party has funded alleged puppet donor schemes in Australia and New Zealand.
Until recently, the American secret services considered this a European problem. Russian operations against the US were mainly limited to misinformation and cyber attacks. But not now. The FBI has warned of Russian interference in the November election, which could include campaign financing, with some funds channeled through countries with “legislative loopholes in foreign election campaign assistance.”
If that’s the case, it’s nothing new. Over the past decade, Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes have legally targeted an estimated $ 300 million in 33 countries to influence democratic procedures, with more than 100 cases known. These financial forays have accelerated from about three per year before 2014 to over 15 per year since 2016.
The first legal breach is often the narrow coverage of the ban on in-kind donations. As a result, Russia is said to have offered loans to French politicians, generous gifts to officials of Swiss police institutions and media services around the world. The US Justice Department’s strict interpretation of a ban on foreigners contributing anything of value allowed Donald Trump to apparently ask Ukraine to investigate the son of a political rival, which led to an attempt to suspend the president.
A second channel involves foreign powers sending envoys on secret missions to enrich certain donors, politicians or parties. The Chinese Communist Party has funded alleged puppet donor schemes in Australia and New Zealand. And the largest known case of foreign currency intervention in the 2016 US election involved allegations that the United Arab Emirates funded a clandestine operation to buy potential influence from Hillary Clinton. The case is still under investigation, and campaign staff are not required to declare foreign contacts.
Then there are the donation vehicles themselves. Anonymous ghost companies can be used to disguise sources of donations. And nonprofits can spend money on politics without revealing their donors. The Kremlin lobby against US sanctions appears to have been disguised as an adoption lobby and organized through a Delaware foundation. Russia has been accused of using non-profit organizations that have acted as environmental groups opposed to fracking.
These channels are just some of the most obvious vulnerabilities. Foreign governments also buy online political advertising, fund obscure news sites, or hire Ghanaian trolls who pretend to be African-Americans.
The cumulative risk of all of them is clear. Clandestine foreign money turns the civic infrastructure of open societies into an asymmetric weapon and converts freedoms into attack tactics. It is a bloodless version of planes that deliberately hit buildings.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led to prompt action by US decision-makers after they investigated how foreign financial institutions exploited legislative loopholes. The US government has adopted the most comprehensive anti-money laundering restructuring in a generation, giving priority to the fight against terrorist financing and prompting other countries to take similar measures.
But the United States does not strengthen its financial defenses in a similar way today. The many legislative gaps persist, despite the abundance of evidence that the clandestine influx of foreign money is growing. The system alerts us by blinking red about the influx of rubles and yuan.