The Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Facebook, and Microsoft together made unlikely partners in a recent joint briefing to the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.
The briefing revolved around the efforts taken by these organizations to prevent the kind of meddling seen in the 2016 presidential elections, with the DHS asserting in a press release that the briefing was focused on Facebook’s and Microsoft’s measures “to combat foreign threats” and “malicious interference operations.” Indeed, it’s the second presentation that the DHS has organized with Facebook in recent months.
Elaborating on the collaborative work between the organizations, DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Under Secretary Christopher C. Krebs said that “countering foreign influence is a shared responsibility,” while FBI National Security Branch Acting Executive Assistant Director Michael McGarrity said, “Companies have a key role in taking action to secure their networks and platforms.”
In their statement, the organizations did not delve into specifics with respect to how they were working to thwart potential interference, but both national security agencies emphasized the need to share intelligence between themselves and their private sector partners. And with both the DHS and the FBI having demonstrated a growing interest in biometric intelligence gathering, and Facebook having taken steps over the past year to use facial recognition to protect users’ online identities, it’s quite possible that sharing such data on potential foreign agents is a component of their cooperation.
Microsoft, meanwhile, recently claimed that it had helped to shut down multiple phishing sites created by Russian hackers that appeared to be targeted at conservative groups in the US.
August 27, 2018 – by Alex Perala