Reports & Papers

18 Items

A staff member in the Kweisi Mfume campaign uses gloves while holding a cell phone during an election night news conference at his campaign headquarters after Mfume, a Democrat, won Maryland’s 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Baltimore.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Report

The Election Influence Operations Playbook, Part 1

September 2020

Influence Operations (IO), also known as Information Operations, are a series of warfare tactics historically used to collect information, influence, or disrupt the decision making of an adversary. IO strategies intentionally disseminate information to manipulate public opinion and/or influence behavior. IO can involve a number of tactics, including spreading false information intentionally. This is known as “disinformation.”   

Skilled influence operations often deliberately spread disinformation in highly public places like social media. This is done in the hope that people who have no connection to the operation will mistakenly share this disinformation. Inaccurate information spread in error without malicious intent is known as “misinformation.” 

This playbook explores mis- and disinformation incidents that specifically focus on elections operations and infrastructure. Election officials may not often see or know what the motivation is behind the incidents encountered or whether they are mis- or disinformation. Throughout these guides we refer to mis/disinformation incidents together, as the strategies for countering or responding to them are the same.  

Voters wait in a line outside Broad Ripple High School to vote in the Indiana primary in Indianapolis, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 after coronavirus concerns prompted officials to delay the primary from its original May 5 date.

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Report

The Election Influence Operations Playbook, Part 2

September 2020

This section of the Playbook includes recommendations and materials focused on the response process. It will help election officials respond to election-related mis and disinformation incidents quickly and in a coordinated fashion. 

In this playbook, we refer to mis/disinformation throughout as one concept. Instances of both misinformation and disinformation in the elections process provide incorrect information to voters. Incorrect information can be conveyed intentionally or unintentionally. For election officials, any incorrect information, regardless of source or intention, presented to voters can pose a threat to elections, because it can undermine voters’ understanding of and trust in the election.

In this April 22, 2020 photo, Gerard Bakulikira, right, and captain Tim Daghelet, left, both wear a Romware COVID Radius digital bracelet, which flashes red when people are too close to each other and creates a log of contacts. 

AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Paper

Considerations for Digital Contact Tracing Tools for COVID-19 Mitigation: Recommendations for Stakeholders and Policymakers

Many are looking to digital contact tracing to assist reopening efforts, especially in light of reports that the U.S. could expect as many as 100,000 more deaths due to the virus by this Fall. This report focuses on how the U.S. might consider various proposed solutions.

We believe there are real benefits, challenges, and even potential harms in using digital solutions in the fight against COVID-19, but we must also acknowledge that the promise of any technology and associated systems to assist manual contact tracing efforts is largely hypothetical in the United States. There is not one catch-all answer; the truth is that technology is not a panacea, but it may be able to assist official efforts at an unprecedented time. However, no technological solution can succeed without two specific factors: public trust and buy-in, and rapid, widespread testing for everyone living in the U.S. To achieve the first, a number of factors must be addressed by officials in the states looking to implement digital solutions, and by technology developers.
 

Office workers using sticky notes on a wall

Adobe Stock

Paper

Human-Centered Policymaking

| April 2020

Human-centered design (HCD) is a complementary discipline that has its roots in industrial design, the discipline that crafts physical products like phones, guitars, and potato peelers. It leverages the qualitative research methods honed in the social sciences—such as ethnography, contextual inquiry, and targeted observations and interviews—to better understand people and interactions. HCD also considers environments, processes, systems, and tools outside of the digital realm. Practitioners often map out customer “journeys” to understand customer experiences across an entire system or ecosystem, not merely a single interface or piece of software. As in agile software development, practitioners of human-centered design iteratively develop solutions to the challenges they uncover, and they rigorously test their solutions with real “users.”

Voters line up in voting booths to cast their ballots at Robious Elementary School in Richmond, Va. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. The mural in the background was painted by 3rd and 4th graders at the school in preparation for Veterans Day.

Shelby Lum/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

Paper

The Elections Battle Staff Playbook

December 2019

Our previous Playbooks have focused on the threats posed by cyber attacks and information operations. This Playbook has a broader scope, and equips you with strategies to operationalize the guidance from past Playbooks through effective preparation, communication, incident tracking, and team organization. By compiling best practices from private and public sector actors, we hope to enhance the capacity of your election team, regardless of your staff or jurisdiction size. It will better prepare you to identify issues and respond to incidents of all types during election operations.

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Geopolitics of Information

| May 28, 2019

To compete and thrive in the 21st century, democracies, and the United States in particular, must develop new national security and economic strategies that address the geopolitics of information. In the 20th century, market capitalist democracies geared infrastructure, energy, trade, and even social policy to protect and advance that era’s key source of power—manufacturing. In this century, democracies must better account for information geopolitics across all dimensions of domestic policy and national strategy.

Paper

Data, Not Documents: Modernizing the Regulatory State

| March 2019

This report starts with a brief primer about the federal regulatory process, including how regulatory agencies collect information from businesses and regulated parties. We then explore potential benefits of data collection modernization—including newer models of regulators harvesting openly published data—and highlight the importance of regulators working with regulated parties to design data collection processes that work for both government and the regulated party.

Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow and the 28 Permanent Representatives to the North Atlantic Council visit NATO’s cyber defence centre at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium on Friday, 23 January 2015.

NATO

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

National Counter-Information Operations Strategy

| February 2019

While nation-state competitors have employed propaganda and information operations (IO) targeting the United States for decades, in recent years their efforts have changed dramatically. The rise of the Internet and social media as mechanisms for disseminating news has made our country both more globally interconnected and simultaneously more vulnerable to foreign efforts to destabilize our democracy. There is now clear evidence that Russia used influence operations designed to undermine U.S. democracy and citizens’ trust in its integrity in both the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Adversaries are actively using information as a weapon to attack the United States, our political system, and citizens’ trust in it.

Report

Big Data, Meager returns?

| Nov. 28, 2018

On October 12th, we brought together specialists, academics and activists to investigate the main points arising from the “Data, Artificial intelligence and the Global South” conversation. The purpose of the workshop was to explore economic fairness and the Global South. This post shares the questions we asked, some of our findings, and what we need to consider next.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

2018 State of Digital Transformation

| October 2018

On June 12-13, 2018, digital HKS welcomed public sector digital services teams from around the world to share stories of success, talk about lessons learned, and discuss the challenges they face in transforming government. The teams convened all agreed on North Star goals of building platform services and putting users at the center; what remains much more difficult is identifying how teams in very different political and technology contexts should think about how to reach that end-state. In this report, digital HKS shares best practices we gleaned from this group, to start a broader conversation for digital services groups around the world about what comes next.