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Facebook, Google meet intelligence agencies to talk 2020 election security

Microsoft and Twitter were reportedly present as well.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 4, 2019
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Both intelligence agencies and tech companies are gearing up to secure the 2020 US election, and that apparently includes some heart-to-heart conversations between the two. Bloomberg sources have learned that Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are meeting members of the FBI, Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to discuss the industry's security strategy. This reportedly includes plans for tighter coordination between tech and government, as well as curbing disinformation campaigns.

We've asked the companies in question for comment. Microsoft confirmed to Engadget that it "is participating in this meeting." In a statement, Twitter said it "always welcome[s] the opportunity" to meet with government agencies and fellow companies to discuss securing the 2020 election, and said there was a "joint effort in response to a shared threat."

The meeting shows that both sides want to coordinate on election security in a way they didn't in 2016. Tech firms have been more proactive this time around -- Facebook has been operating "war rooms" to monitor elections, for instance, while Google has instituted measures to protect high-risk hacking targets. The question, as always, is whether or not these measures will be enough. Security improvements didn't stop Russia and others from targeting the 2018 midterms, and it's doubtful they'll back off just because they face a more united opposition.

Update 9/4 7:30PM ET: Facebook has also confirmed the meeting in a detailed response, outlining how companies and government bodies were finding ways to share data and coordinate responses. You can read the full statement below.

"Today security teams from Facebook and a number of technology companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, met at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, CA with representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose was to build on previous discussions and further strengthen strategic collaboration regarding the security of the 2020 U.S. state, federal, and presidential elections.

"Participants discussed their respective work, explored potential threats, and identified further steps to improve planning and coordination. Specifically, attendees talked about how industry and government could improve how we share information and coordinate our response to better detect and deter threats.

"For Facebook, we've developed a comprehensive strategy to close previous vulnerabilities, while analyzing and getting ahead of new threats. Our work focuses on continuing to build smarter tools, greater transparency, and stronger partnerships.

"Improving election security and countering information operations are complex challenges that no organization can solve alone. Today's meeting builds on our continuing commitment to work with industry and government partners, as well as with civil society and security experts, to better understand emerging threats and prepare for future elections."

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