—Jill Goldenziel, Marine Corps University-Command and Staff College; Fox Leadership International Affiliated Scholar, University of Pennsylvania. Professor Goldenziel’s views do not represent those of her University or any other arm of the U.S. Government.
[Editor’s note: This is one of our biweekly I-CONnect columns. Columns, while scholarly in accordance with the tone of the blog and about the same length as a normal blog post, are a bit more “op-ed” in nature than standard posts. For more information about our four columnists for 2019, see here.]
Freedom of speech and expression and the right to privacy are two constitutional rights that democracies hold most dear. These freedoms are entrenched in the constitutions of most democracies around the world. Freedom of speech is especially prized in the United States, which has some of the least restrictive laws on freedom of speech in the world. The right to privacy is also especially important in democracies. In Europe, the right to privacy has been a hot-button legal issue in the context of the Internet, and a related “right to be forgotten” has been developing. While the right to privacy is not explicitly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, it has developed in interpretation of many Constitutional amendments, including the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and First. U.S. citizens are fiercely protective of their right to privacy against government interference of their freedom of speech. The Privacy Act of 1974, enacted while Americans recoiled from Watergate and the Soviet government’s efforts to surveil Soviet citizens, places significant restrictions on the U.S. Government’s ability to collect data related to the First Amendment activities of U.S. persons.
As detailed in my new article, “The New Fighting Words: How U.S. Law Hampers the Fight Against Information Warfare,” (with Manal Cheema), enemy states are now weaponizing these prized freedoms against democracies. Russia’s information warfare campaigns against Estonia, the Ukraine, and the U.S., for example, have been well publicized. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, foreign-influenced operations like Russia’s include covert actions intended to “sow division in our society, undermine confidence in democratic institutions, and otherwise affect political sentiment and public discourse to achieve strategic geopolitical objectives.” Well before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Russia was using online sources disguised as news outlets to produce and distribute fake news, targeting key voter groups. Russia’s sophisticated information warfare campaign against the integrity of the U.S. electoral process continues as it seeks to influence the 2020 presidential election.Read the rest of this entry…