• PerspectiveThe Kremlin’s Disinformation Playbook Goes to Beijing

    The coronavirus pandemic is exposing a growing competition between democratic and authoritarian governments. Jessica Brandt and Torrey Tausing write that as the U.S. and Europe struggle to contain the virus at home, Russia and China are seizing the moment to enhance their international influence through information operations.

  • DisinformationTriad of Disinformation: How Russia, Iran, & China Ally in a Messaging War against America

    By Clint Watts

    China has long deployed widespread censorship, propaganda, and information manipulation efforts within its borders, but information operations directed at foreign audiences have generally focused on framing China in a positive way. In the last two months, however, Beijing, showing itself willing to emulate Russia’s approach to information campaigns, has conducted a much more ambitious effort not only to shape global perspectives about what’s occurring inside China, but to influence public opinion about events outside its borders.

  • SurveillanceGermany: Revised Domestic Surveillance Bill Submitted to Bundestag

    A draft law to reform Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency is to be re-submitted to parliament after long debate. It will allow German domestic intelligence and law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance of telephone calls and SMS text services, including encrypted “chats” via services such as WhatsApp and Telegram, but will  not allow the use of cyber “Trojan” trawling tools.

  • Truth decayAustralian Investigators Debunk 5G-COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory

    One of the more bizarre conspiracy theories recently created is the one claiming a connection between 5G technology and the virus. Believers argue that that either 5G was responsible for coronavirus, due to the construction of 5G networks in Wuhan, or for “poisoning cells” which created coronavirus. An Australian parliamentary investigation has now debunked this particular piece of misinformation.

  • Truth decayHow “Truth Decay” Is Harming America’s Coronavirus Recovery

    How is it possible that Americans are polarized along party lines even on something as seemingly apolitical as a virus? Alex Ward writes in Vox that one big reason is what Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation, calls “truth decay.” Simply put, Americans no longer rely on facts and data as much as they should. That’s a problem at any time, but it’s especially troubling during a pandemic, when people need the best, most reliable information to stay safe.

  • Truth decayFacebook Studies Reveal Science Mistrust Winning on Vaccine Messaging

    Lisa Schnirring writes in CIDRAP that Facebook groups which fuel mistrust of health guidance, such as those that air anti-vaccine views, have gained the upper hand over groups with reliable information from health agencies, a team led by George Washington University reported yesterday in Nature.

  • Truth decayBattling the “Pandemic of Misinformation”

    By Christina Pazzanese

    When a disease outbreak grabs the public’s attention, formal recommendations from medical experts are often muffled by a barrage of half-baked advice, sketchy remedies, and misguided theories that circulate as anxious people rush to understand a new health risk. The current crisis is no exception. Ubiquity of social media has made it easier to spread or even create COVID-19 falsehoods, making the work of public health officials harder.

  • DisinformationForeign countries’ Efforts to Influence U.S. Public's Understanding of COVID-19

    The ongoing worldwide coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been immune to the problem of rampant disinformation—intentionally misleading information or propaganda. The European External Action Service of the European Union recently stated that “despite their potentially grave impact on public health, official and state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and—to a lesser extent—China, have continued to widely target conspiracy narratives and disinformation both at public audiences in the EU and the wider neighborhood.” Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare, discuss how disinformation has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • ExtremismAnti-Semitic Incidents in U.S. Hit All-Time High in 2019

    The American Jewish community experienced the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents last year since tracking began in 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment reported across the United States. The record number of incidents came as the Jewish community grappled with violent and lethal anti-Semitic attacks against communities in Poway, Jersey City and Monsey, and a spree of violent assaults in Brooklyn.

  • Digital forensicsStudents Take Witness Stand in Virtual Courtroom

    USC students took the stand as part of the capstone project in their advanced digital forensics class at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. In years past, students in the class traveled to a real courtroom, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to a digital venue: a videoconference on Zoom.

  • PerspectiveVirus Conspiracists Elevate a New Champion

    A discredited scientist who blames her professional downfall on Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the new hero of the anti-vaccinators, the conspiracy group QAnon, activists from the Reopen America movement, and some right-wing media. They support her claims that Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and other “establishment” figures inflated the danger of the coronavirus in order to make money by selling more vaccines.

  • PerspectiveAll’s Clear for Deep Fakes: Think Again

    A few analysts are claiming that the bark of deepfakes is worse than their bite. Robert Chesney, Danielle Citron, and Hany Farid disagree, writing that “Now is not the time to sit back and claim victory over deep fakes or to suggest that concern about them is overblown. The coronavirus has underscored the deadly impact of believable falsehoods, and the election of a lifetime looms ahead. More than ever we need to trust what our eyes and ears are telling us.”

  • Software flawsSoftware Flaws Often Reported First on Social Media Networks

    Software vulnerabilities are more likely to be discussed on social media before they’re revealed on a government reporting site, a practice that could pose a national security threat. At the same time, those vulnerabilities present a cybersecurity opportunity for governments to more closely monitor social media discussions about software gaps.

  • Tracking & privacyExamining Australia’s COVIDSafe Tracing App

    The Australian government releases an App called COVIDSafe to help in tracing contacts of those infected with the coronavirus. As is the case with similar apps in other countries, COVIDSafe has raised privacy concerns, especially about the potential of abuse by government agencies and hacking by cybercriminals. The University of Sydney academics from the disciplines of cybersecurity, media, law and health comment on COVIDSafe, its pros and cons.

  • PerspectiveThe Deepfake iPhone Apps Are Here

    On Sunday, Lawfare’s Jacob Schulz, like many Americans, woke up to see that President Donald Trump had retweeted a misleading gif of his presumptive Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. Schultz notes that Trump’s dissemination of a deepfake video was met with alarm. David Frum, for example, noted the significance of the president’s retweet: “Instead of sharing deceptively edited video—as Trump and his allies have often done before—yesterday Trump for the first time shared a video that had been outrightly fabricated.” Schulz adds: “Soon, people will be able to use their iPhones not just to turn themselves into mildly convincing late-night comedians but to convincingly turn Joe Biden into whatever they want. When that happens, in the now-infamous words of Samantha Cole of Motherboard, ‘We are truly f****d.’”