By Aaron Kesel
Representatives for Google, Facebook and Twitter met with DHS officials at Facebook’s headquarters to devise 2020 election measures against the spread of “fake news” on candidates earlier this week.
The meeting at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, offices involved officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Bloomberg reported.
It is worth noting that the DHS stated in February that the agency would “double down” against election hacking efforts from foreign states according to Chris Krebs, who leads DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The new agency arm of the DHS was created last year in a bill called Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act that was silently passed through Congress as Activist Post reported.
“The department’s election security and countering foreign influence security-related efforts are not going anywhere,” Krebs said. “In fact, we’re doubling down.”
Krebs further told reporters that there “would be more CISA employees protecting election systems in 2020 than there were during the midterms.”
CISA announced last month that its goals were to prioritize election security, cybersecurity at federal agencies, roll out the dangerous 5G networks and the “persistent threat” posed by China in a public document, titled: “Strategic Intent.”
Earlier this year under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, one of the spending bills that was aimed at averting a government shutdown, the DHS received $33 million for election security information sharing initiatives for fiscal year 2019.
Last year, Congress also appropriated $380 million to be distributed through the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission and out to individual states. The money was used to help fund standard security measures such as training election workers on how to spot phishing emails, software patching and ensuring that election results have an audit-able paper trail.
The DHS has been working to help county election officials, advising since last June on how to spend the $380 million election security funds.
As Activist Post previously wrote:
The DHS’s statement on the creation of CISA shows that the new agency will be “working with partners across all levels of government and in the private sector to secure against the evolving risks of tomorrow.”
The “private sector” would include social media companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Unsurprisingly, the government isn’t hiding its partnership with tech companies, and Trump has even bizarrely suggested using Apple and Amazon Echo watches to implement a social credit system similar to China to decide whether or not citizens can purchase firearms. As a reminder to the reader, Amazon is head deep within Washington’s swamp with Pentagon contracts halted and a CIA cloud deal worth $600 million dollars.
That’s not all on the election front. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this year, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) asked Gen. Paul Nakasone, who leads CyberCom and also serves as director of the National Security Agency, “Would it be fair to say that it is not a coincidence that this election went off without a hitch and the fact that you were actively involved in the protection of very important infrastructure?”
To which Nakasone responded: “securing the midterms was the ‘number one priority’ of CyberCom and the NSA.”
So all three agencies — CISA, CyberCom and the NSA — have been tasked with protecting election integrity to this reporter’s knowledge. Now those same agencies are meeting with Silicon Valley to ask what BIG social will do to prevent disinformation and misinformation spreading online. In other words, the DHS wants to control the narrative that voters get to hear/see while using the most popular social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s subsidiary company, YouTube.
DHS is connecting social media companies with local election officials to help them identify disinformation online and prevent it from spreading, according to a report by CNET with Matt Masterson, a DHS senior adviser on election security.
Facebook was recently fined a record $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission in July for violating consumers’ privacy rights. Meanwhile, Google is facing claims by rival Brave that the Google Chrome browser sells user data to partners.
Facebook’s probe was started out of the revelation that a third-party firm – Cambridge Analytica – was able to access private information affecting millions of Americans during the 2016 election cycle. It was also alleged that Russians purchased thousands of ads on Facebook in favor of then U.S. candidate Donald Trump.
However, the DHS and not a single government agency has yet to comment on the attempted hacking from within DHS walls of various state election systems during the 2016 election. Which many seem to have forgot even took place, no doubt distracted by the propaganda “ham sandwich” indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of 26 Russian nationals that will never see the U.S. court system for a trial.
Although the DHS did attempt to blame a “rogue employee,” but that argument doesn’t hold much water because of the number of states that had their security probed.
Also in 2016, before the election the federal government was attempting to declare state election systems as “critical infrastructure.” After that attempt failed, it seems they attempted to illegally take matters into their own hands and scanned election systems without first notifying each respective state official.
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Several states reported the reconnaissance scans for vulnerabilities in their servers performed by DHS IP addresses.
Cybersecurity experts agree the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security attempted to hack into states’ voter registration systems in Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia.
According to one report published by the Daily Caller News Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, under the Obama administration, attempted to hack the Indiana State electoral system nearly 15,000 times.
Another case was revealed by Georgia’s secretary of state who stated that the DHS tried to breach its firewall of computers housing voter registration data on November 15th. The other issue is the timing of the attacks against Georgia. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told The DCNF Jan. 24, 2016, he was suspicious because four of the 10 attacks against the Georgia election network occurred as he was about to talk to DHS officials, or coincided with his public testimony opposing designation of election systems as “critical infrastructure.”
On November 3, 2016, it was reported that Hawaii was working with the Department of Homeland Security to secure its election systems.
On November 8, 2016, its worth noting there were reports of equipment problems at 18 different polling places with ballot scanning machines.
Thus it’s exposed that a rogue group in the DHS tried to hack the election, which should be worrying because originally the DHS wanted to oversee the election to prevent exactly this. According to the DHS, there were no reported incidents where any states had their votes changed, but the DHS never looked into it – one has to question why?
Recent NBC reporting has misrepresented facts and confused the public with regard to Department of Homeland Security and state and local government efforts to combat election hacking. First off, let me be clear: we have no evidence – old or new – that any votes in the 2016 elections were manipulated by Russian hackers. NBC News continues to falsely report my recent comments on attempted election hacking – which clearly mirror my testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last summer – as some kind of “breaking news,” incorrectly claiming a shift in the administration’s position on cyber threats. As I said eight months ago, a number of states were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure. In the majority of cases, only preparatory activity like scanning was observed, while in a small number of cases, actors were able to access the system but we have no evidence votes were changed or otherwise impacted.
On his way out of office then-DHS secretary Jeh Johnson signed an order designating election systems as “critical infrastructure” that U.S. President Donald Trump still hasn’t rolled back, meaning the federal government could easily rig the election disguised as protecting our election integrity.
On election day voters all across the U.S. reported that their votes were being switched from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, according to CBS. It is not known who hacked these machines or how many votes may have been affected, and it probably never will be, but this should concern you – it’s a bipartisan issue.
All 50 state-level secretaries of state have urged the Trump administration to repeal the DHS directive. It’s worth noting that according to the WikiLeaks Stratfor documents, the 2008 election results were manipulated by Democrats. That’s not to say that Republicans haven’t rigged an election in the past, either, remember the recount with George W. Bush’s brother’s state being the deciding factor?
Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists. https://t.co/XGgFFH3Ppl
— DHS Press Secretary (@SpoxDHS) April 6, 2018
As a fun fact, in April of last year the DHS announced it would monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the globe and compile an extensive database on journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers” who mention its name. So with that said, this reporter who is a “tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorist” and probably a terrorist for worrying about increased government surveillance according to DHS press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton, is ready for his close-up.
Here’s a thought — rather than allow the DHS or any government entity to take over election security let alone the flow of information on social media, further decreasing democracy by putting power into the hands of federal agencies i.e. big brother, maybe, just maybe, we should go back to paper ballots as numerous experts have suggested?
What’s stopping another “rogue DHS agent” from attempting or succeeding in hacking into state election systems databases again? The answer is not much when these agencies are given so much power it just takes one bad apple to rig an election; and the threat would come from within, not a foreign power.
As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Democracy requires constant vigilance.”
Image Credit: chrisdiontewalker
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