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Hacking Democracies - Cataloguing Cyber-Enabled Attacks on Elections


One of the great hopes for the internet was that it would herald a new era in the democratisation of information. To a large extent, it’s been successful. So successful, in fact, that global platforms, technology diffusion and mobility have brought some unintended consequences by enabling the rapid dissemination of disinformation and fake news.

We live in a time when trust in our democratic and other key institutions has declined, and this is compounded by new capabilities of adversaries seeking to interfere in our elections and to undermine people’s trust in those institutions.

In this policy brief, the writers explore areas where interference has been detected across the world and consider key learnings from those examples in order to develop policy responses for countering each type of interference.

Technology has the power to transform lives by reducing barriers to entry and creating greater equity so that all our citizens can participate in education and the economy. We want to live in a world where friction is removed and technology enhances our experience, where all citizens have access to the internet, and where we can vote electronically in elections. However, our interconnection needs to be safe and trusted, protecting and enhancing our democracies.

This brief starts an important national conversation, generating awareness of the approaches commonly taken by adversaries to spread disinformation, misinformation and fake news. It lays out a series of measures for managing risk, and serves as an educational resource for our citizens on what to keep an eye out for, and how to better distinguish reputable information from disinformation in real time.