U.S. authorities issuing more foreign interference warnings as election nears

U.S. officials who track disinformation campaigns say they have issued more warnings to political candidates, government leaders and others targeted by foreign groups in recent months as America’s adversaries seek to influence the outcome of the 2024 election.

Without giving specifics, an official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Wednesday that the number is higher, at least in part, because “presidential elections draw more attention from our adversaries.”

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Officials would not specify how many private warnings they have issued to candidates, political organizations or local election offices. Such warnings are delivered after an interagency panel of intelligence officials concludes that an influence operation could impact the outcome of an election or prevent certain groups from voting.

The warnings are only given when officials can attribute the operation to foreign sources, allowing them to “take a more defensive stance,” an official said.

The office within the intelligence community that leads the work, the Foreign Malign Influence Center, has no jurisdiction over domestic groups. The officials who briefed reporters Wednesday said they work to avoid any appearance of policing Americans’ speech or playing favorites when it comes to candidates.

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Intelligence officials have issued only one public warning so far — in 2020 when groups linked to Iran sent emails to Democratic voters in an apparent effort to intimidate them into voting for Donald Trump.

Powerful artificial intelligence programs that allow the rapid creation of images, audio and video pose a growing problem, as adversaries look to use the technology to create lifelike fakes that could easily mislead voters.

The use of AI has already popped up ahead of elections in India, Mexico, Moldova, Slovakia and Bangladesh, and in the U.S., where some voters in New Hampshire received an AI robocall that mimicked the voice of President Joe Biden.

AI deepfakes used by U.S. adversaries remain a top threat, officials said.

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: World