Elections, government, and tech

In case you missed it, back in July the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, created a new position (the Election Threats Executive) to oversee and coordinate election security efforts across the various intelligence agencies, and appointed Shelby Pierson as the first in that role. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are all working hard to improve protections against foreign interference in elections, but … it’s hard. It’s hard from a technical perspective, it’s hard from a legal perspective, and it’s hard from a free-speech perspective. And while the companies are all getting better, getting better may not be good enough. It doesn’t help that government policies may be in conflict. Pierson met with Silicon Valley execs for the first time last week, and according to WSJ, “delivered a blunt message to the assembled executives: you need to share more data with us about your users.” Aside from general notions of freedom indicating that that’s a bad idea, the companies are still reeling from the Snowden disclosures, and (more apropos from a timing and government interaction perspective) are facing fines and ongoing litigation from the government around privacy. It’s hard to have it both ways.

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