2018 - RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN ELECTIONS AND REFERENDA IN THE ALLIANCE - 181 STC 18 E fin

Susan DAVIS (United States)

This report argues that Russia’s meddling in elections and referenda is a threat to the Alliance and its members. The Rapporteur reviews recent cases of alleged interference in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. She argues that many of these actions are a continuation of Russia’s attempts to divide, destabilise and otherwise undermine Alliance members. These efforts target political institutions and media organizations with hacks and leaks. Individual social media users face misinformation and coordinated propaganda campaigns.

Noting the novelty of this problem and the difficulties of response, the report summarises some recent efforts directed at election infrastructures, information systems, and social media. It notes the importance of robust protections for voter registration and voting systems, a need to boost cybersecurity among politically relevant organisations and the role of fact-checking groups. The Rapporteur raises key questions about the responsibilities of social media companies and the role of government to promote responsible activity on social media platforms. She ends by noting that Russia will likely continue its efforts to undermine democratic institutions and calls lawmakers to foster dialogue about how to rebut alleged interference within their home countries.

This report was adopted by the Science and Technology Committee (STC) at the NATO PA’s Annual Session, in November 2018 in Halifax, Canada, along with a related resolution.