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Securing Democracy in the Digital Age

By Zoe Hawkins

The proliferation of cyberspace and rise of social media have enriched and strengthened the application of democratic governance.

Technological developments have expedited the international flow of information, improved freedom of speech in many areas of the world, and increased the quality of interaction, accountability and service delivery from democratic governments to their citizens. But these benefits must be balanced against a longstanding vulnerability of democracy to manipulation that cyberspace has enhanced in both scope and scale.

The 2016 US presidential election demonstrated the increasingly complex cyber and information environment in which democracies are operating. Using US case study illustrations, this report offers a conceptual framework by which to understand how cybersecurity and information security techniques can be used to compromise a modern-day election.

The report places this case study in its historical context and outlines emerging approaches to this new normal of election interference before identifying associated policy considerations for democracies.