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Cyber attacks threaten democracy, privacy advocates warn

Former world chess champion Kasparov warns Putin 'must be stopped'

Garry Kasparov

While migrants streaming across a border may be a threat to democracy, cyber attacks pose an even more serious threat, a leading privacy advocacy group warns.

“In the last several months, we have seen a dramatic increase in the risks to democratic institutions,” said Marc Rotenberg, President of EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based non-profit. “There is now widespread concern about the Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. We need enhanced cybersecurity that is transparent and accountable.”

EPIC is launching a project that will study the relationship between democratic institutions and cybersecurity policy, Rotenberg said. The EPIC Project will examine three key areas: election integrity, foreign interference with democratic decisionmaking, and cyber policy.

“Our effort is intended to focus greater attention on the specific threat to democratic institutions,” said EPIC Policy Director Caitriona Fitzgerald. EPIC has urged Congress to update federal data protection laws and to establish a data protection agency to address the growing risk of data breach and identity theft.

EPIC also filed two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to obtain information about the extent of Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential Election.

In EPIC v. FBI, EPIC is seeking to determine the FBI response to knowledge of the Russian interference with the Presidential election. In EPIC v. ODNI, EPIC is seeking to obtain the public release of the complete report concerning the Russian interference with the election.

Kasparov keynote

As part of the project, EPIC will be honoring former world chess champion and pro-democracy reformer Garry Kasparov on June 5 at the National Press Club.

Kasparov is author of "Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped." He has warned repeatedly that the Russian government will seek to undermine democratic institutions in the United States and Europe.

EPIC was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues. It has played a leading role in cyber policy for more than two decades.

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