Stories by Joe Uchill

U.S. laws don't cover campaign disinformation

A now-defunct loudspeaker system set up to bombard North Korea with South Korean messaging. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The international industry of disinformation-for-hire services has already reared its head in Western politics, and it's growing fast.

The big picture: There is no U.S. law that prevents candidates, parties or political groups from launching their own disinformation campaigns, either in-house or through a contractor, so long as foreign money isn't involved. It's up to individual candidates to decide their tolerance for the practice.

Web browsers unite against reported Kazakhstani surveillance

A Kazakhstani resident waves a flag at a 2016 auto rally. Photo: Patrick Baz via AFP/Getty Images

Google, Mozilla and Apple are taking a coordinated action to prevent the Kazakhstani government from using bulk surveillance on citizen web browsing.

The big picture: Web browsers use a system known as certificates to verify and encrypt communications with websites. Kazakhstan is reportedly forcing residents to circumvent that system by using a national certificate rather than the trusted certificates browsers normally use.

Why the deepfakes threat is shallow

Illustration of a mobile phone turned to the side glowing, a devil's tail is coming out of the back hidden in the shadows.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite the sharp alarms being sounded over deepfakes — uncannily realistic AI-generated videos showing real people doing and saying fictional things —security experts believe that the videos ultimately don't offer propagandists much advantage compared to the simpler forms of disinformation they are likely to use.

Why it matters: It’s easy to see how a viral video that appears to show, say, the U.S. president declaring war would cause panic — until, of course, the video was debunked. But deepfakes are not an efficient form of a long-term disinformation campaign.