At a glance.

  • US Rewards for Justice offers millions for intel on election tampering.
  • Florida law prevents social media from blocking political candidates. 
  • EU reaches agreement on MiCA Directive.
  • US Justice Department releases strategy for ransomware prosecution.
  • Indian government seeks to control social media content. 

US Rewards for Justice offers millions for intel on election tampering.

The US State Department announced last Thursday that it’s offering $10 million through its Rewards for Justice program to anyone with information that helps them apprehend a foreign person or entity “who knowingly engaged or is engaging in foreign election interference.” The Record by Recorded Future explains, this could include vote tampering as well as disinformation campaigns. A similar reward was offered ahead of the 2020 presidential election, and the announcement emphasizes officials’ desire to protect the upcoming midterm elections from any meddling, especially from Russia, and restore Americans’ confidence in voting security. Last week at the RSA Conference, National Security Agency cybersecurity directorate chief Rob Joyce told reporters, “The worry in all of election security is trust and confidence that we’ve delivered a safe and secure election.”

Florida law prevents social media from blocking political candidates. 

In the US state of Florida, a new law took effect on Friday that prohibits social media platforms from suspending the account of a candidate running for political office or journalistic enterprise. WJXT reports that platforms found in violation can be fined $25,000 per day, and the fine increases to $200,000 per day for the accounts of candidates running for statewide office. The new law, which Florida Governor Ronald DeSantis says is “guaranteed protection against Silicon Valley elites,” also requires social media platforms to be more transparent about the decision-making process behind what content is taken down and what is allowed to remain. Thus the law seems to move the treatment of social media as neutral platforms, as opposed to publishers.

EU reaches agreement on MiCA Directive.

After much debate, the European Union on Thursday approved its Cryptocurrency Market (MiCA) Directive, a groundbreaking set of laws directing cryptographic asset service provider oversight, as well as consumer protection and environmental protection of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. Worldakkam notes that the directive marks the first time that the European Parliament has attempted large-scale oversight of the cryptocurrency industry. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is responsible for overseeing the crypto market and the new legislation aims to protect market integrity by cutting down on money laundering and environmental issues. Non-fungible tokens, a source of much disagreement among member states, will be exempt from the new rules but may be introduced within the scope of MiCA in the future. After the talks, Ernest Urtasun, MEP and the shadow representative of MiCA, stated, “We wanted more ambition. But we believe the compromise is the first step in making a fundamental change in the sector in the next review.”

US Justice Department releases strategy for ransomware prosecution.

The US Justice Department (DOJ) on Friday released its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan promising by September of next year to increase “the percentage of reported ransomware incidents from which cases are opened, added to existing cases, or resolved or investigative actions are conducted within 72 hours to 65%.” The Record by Recorded Future notes, other objectives in the plan include addressing supply chain vulnerabilities, supporting both the public and private sectors by sharing cybersecurity intelligence, assisting victims in cyberattack recovery, and boosting the Department’s expertise by investing in cyber recruitment and training. Officials explained, “The Department will help the private sector identify and address their vulnerabilities through threat intelligence sharing and targeted outreach. We will also continue to support policy efforts to protect the digital supply chain, federal information systems, and critical infrastructure against vulnerabilities.” As well, the strategy states that the DOJ plans to use the False Claims Act as a means to penalize anyone who knowingly puts government data at risk by providing deficient cybersecurity services or misrepresenting their cybersecurity practices. 

Indian government seeks to control social media content. 

In India, President Narendra Modi’s administration has ordered Twitter to remove posts from several journalists and human rights activists criticizing the government’s activities. As recently as last year, Twitter pushed back against the government’s attempts to censor content on the platform, stating, “To do so, we believe, would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.” However, in the months since, India has adopted social media legislation, affectionately called “hostage-taking laws” by industry experts, which require all social media platforms to appoint a chief compliance officer who must be a resident of India and will be criminally liable if the company does not comply with government orders. Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist and founder of tech policy publication MediaNama, told Rest of World, “You have to realize that the rules of the game have changed. Whatever Twitter may have blocked last year…the Indian government has since given itself the power to jail someone from Twitter if it does not comply with government orders. And that’s a risk very few companies, maybe no company, will be willing to take.”