The latest report by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) on cyber threats to Canada’s democratic process reveals that the agency believes it is now “very likely” that Canadian voters will encounter foreign cyber interference prior to October’s federal election – the most likely vector for which will be ‘fake news’.
The report says that it’s highly likely foreign entities will do in Canada what they have tried to do in other countries: Attempt to sway the ideas and decisions of voters by focusing on polarizing social and political issues, promoting the popularity of one party over another, or trying to shape the public statements and policy choices of a candidate.
October federal election
The report states: ‘Foreign adversaries have attempted to sway the ideas and decisions of voters by focusing on polarizing social and political issues, promoting the popularity of one party over another, or trying to shape the public statements and policy choices of a candidate using cyber tools or social media platforms.’
Democratic Institutions Minister, Karina Gould, told a morning briefing that the government had warned social media companies it wanted more effort from them in preventing their platforms being used for disinformation.
Gould said: “There is an onus on social media and digital platforms to better protect the digital public square by increasing efforts to prevent malicious cyber activity including the spread of disinformation.
“We have been meeting with these companies, and although discussions have been progressing slowly and have not yet yielded the results we expected at this stage, we remain steadfast in our commitment to secure change from them.”
She added: “I don’t have the confidence that they are disclosing everything with us and I think from experiences we’ve seen around the world that there is a lot left to be desired in terms of how seriously they’re taking these issues.”