Burr unveils Senate intel committee’s second report on Russian election interference

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, earlier this week released the committee’s second volume in its bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election that includes numerous key findings and recommendations to thwart similar actions in the future.

“Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election,” Sen. Burr said on Tuesday. “Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government.”

Sen. Burr released the report, Volume II: Russia’s Use of Social Media, with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which examines Russia’s efforts to use social media to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. The report draws on data provided to the committee by social media companies and a Technical Advisory Group comprised of a variety of experts.

“While Russia may have been the first to hone the modern disinformation tactics outlined in this report, other adversaries, including China, North Korea, and Iran, are following suit,” Sen. Burr said.

The report calls for an integrated approach to deal with such threats that bring together the public and private sectors.

“This approach must be rooted in protecting democratic values, including freedom of speech and the right to privacy,” according to the report released on Oct. 8. “The federal government, civil society, and the private sector, including social media and technology companies, each have an important role to play in deterring and defending against foreign influence operations that target the United States.”

Sen. Burr added that any solution must balance U.S. national security interests with free speech rights.

“Social media companies, federal agencies, law enforcement, and Congress must work together to address these challenges, and I am grateful for the cooperation our committee has gotten from both the intelligence community and the tech industry,” he said. “My hope is that by continuing to shine a light on this issue, we will encourage more Americans to use social media responsibly, as discerning and informed consumers.”

The first volume of the committee’s report, Volume I: Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure, was released in July.