With the 2024 election season already underway, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is concerned about foreign malign influence.
He wrote to Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), pushing the agency to recommit to addressing foreign malign influence in U.S. elections. In his letter, Warner cited a recently declassified intelligence assessment emphasizing the continuing threat of foreign election influence.
Warner specifically highlighted the need for CISA to lead efforts to shore up our nation’s defenses, both through physical and technical protections of election systems and electoral processes, and by serving as a liaison between the intelligence community, the private sector, and state and local institutions in order to facilitate information sharing to combat malign influence.
“CISA’s commitment to leading the federal government’s engagement on physical security and cybersecurity ahead of each federal election is crucial,” Warner said. “Since the designation of election infrastructure as critical infrastructure in 2017, CISA has led a collaborative effort to assist state and local governments, election officials, federal partners, and private sector partners in protecting election systems from cyber threats. The complex and often highly varied election processes and systems across the U.S. are markedly more secure today as a result of CISA’s important efforts.”
The role of CISA in combatting election threats has never been more important, as the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on Murthy v. Missouri, a case that has the potential to severely limit the role that government officials can play in communicating with private social media companies when it comes to countering foreign disinformation campaigns.
“With the heightened possibility that the FBI may (through internal policy or court decision) be hamstrung in its ability to share threat information with impacted parties outside the federal government, it will be incumbent upon CISA to fill this vacuum – engaging and serving as an interlocutor between private sector entities, the intelligence community and law enforcement, and state and local officials,” Warner wrote.
Earlier this month, Warner filed an amicus brief urging the Court to reverse the dangerous decision of the Fifth Circuit that would prevent voluntary information sharing between government agencies and private social media companies in order to better protect against foreign threats.