Co-led by the former campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney and experts from the national security and technology communities, including Facebook and Google, the Defending Digital Democracy (DDD) Project aims to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks. By creating a unique and bipartisan team comprised of top-notch political operatives and leaders in the cyber and national security world, DDD intends to offer concrete solutions to an urgent problem.

Foreign nations and non-state actors are not backing down in their efforts to hack, alter the outcome and undermine confidence in our elections. The Defending Digital Democracy Project will help institutions fortify themselves against these attacks by:

  • Developing solutions to share important threat information with technology providers, governments, and political organizations;
  • Providing election administrators, election infrastructure providers, and campaign organizations with practical “playbooks” to improve their cybersecurity;
  • Developing strategies for how the United States and other democracies can credibly deter hostile actors from engaging in cyber and information operations; 

  • Assessing emerging technologies, such as blockchain, that may improve the integrity of systems and processes vital to elections and democracy;
  • Convening civic, technology, and media leaders to develop best practices that can shield our public discourse from adversarial information operations.

The DDD Project is led by Eric Rosenbach, Co-Director of the Belfer Center and former Assistant Secretary of Defense. Prior to his July 2015 appointment as Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Rosenbach served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security.

Rosenbach recruited Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, and Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, to join DDD as Fellows and co-leaders.

“Americans across the political spectrum agree that political contests should be decided by the power of ideas, not the skill of foreign hackers,” Rosenbach said. “Cyber deterrence starts with strong cyber defense — and this project brings together key partners in politics, national security, and technology to generate innovative ideas to safeguard our key democratic institutions.”

“Over the last two years, nearly every election on both sides of the Atlantic has been affected by foreign cyber attacks, including Hillary Clinton’s in 2016,” said Mook. “Many foreign countries, and even terrorist organizations, exploit digital technology to advance their agendas and influence public narratives abroad. This project will find practical solutions to help both parties and civic institutions that are critical to our elections better secure themselves and become more resilient to attacks.”

“Cyber attacks on campaigns and elections are a threat to our democracy and affect people of all political stripes,” said Rhoades. "Foreign actors could target any political party at any time, and that means we all need to work together to address these vulnerabilities. This project will bring together not just different parties and ideologies, but subject matter experts from cyber security, national security, technology, and election administration to make a difference.”

Co-Sponsors

  • Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Senior Advisory Group

The Project has enlisted Marc Elias of Perkins Cole and Ben Ginsberg of Jones Day, two of the top respective Democratic and Republican election lawyers in the country, to advise the project, along with a bipartisan senior advisory group made up of leaders in technology, cyber security, and national security, including:

  • Heather Adkins, Director, Information Security and Privacy, Google
  • Dmitri Alperovich, Co-Founder and CTO, Crowdstrike
  • Stuart Holliday, President and CEO, Meridian International Center; former United States Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations
  • Nicco Mele, Director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School
  • Debora Plunkett, former Director of the National Security Agency’s Information Assurance Directorate
  • Suzanne E. Spaulding, former Under Secretary – National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the Department of Homeland Security
  • Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer, Facebook