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DOJ Promises A Crackdown On Election-Related Threats

Justice Department leaders promised Monday to respond swiftly to threats against officials overseeing this year’s elections and to combat the increasing use of sophisticated technology to disguise the origins of disruptions. With a close-fought presidential campaign looming in November, high-ranking federal officials convened at DOJ headquarters to warn that threats of violence related to the election will be pursued aggressively and prosecutors will seek extra punishment in cases involving artificial intelligence and other digital advances, Politico reports. “If you threaten to harm or kill an election worker, volunteer or official, the Justice Department will find you and we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The public servants who administer our elections must be able to do their jobs without fearing for their sanity or their families. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who threaten election workers.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who is overseeing the Justice Department’s response to AI, said emerging technologies are increasingly involved in efforts to intimidate poll workers and others who manage elections. “A particularly disturbing trend across these cases is the way perpetrators use new technologies to mask their identities and communicate their threats,” Monaco said. “Today, criminals use a range of anonymizing technologies, not just burner phones and social media.”

Monaco called “artificial intelligence” the “most disruptive” of the new tools being used to disrupt elections. “These advanced tools are providing new avenues for bad actors to hide their identities and obscure sources of threats,” she said. “They’re providing new avenues to misinform and threaten voters through deep fakes, spreading altered video or cloned audio impersonating trusted voices, and providing new avenues to recruit and radicalize with incendiary social media content that accelerates online hate and harassment.” The law enforcement officials who gathered for the meeting of the Election Threats Task Force made no public mention of the candidates expected to be at the top of the ballot in November — President Biden and former President Trump — or how their rematch could stir up emotions particularly among Americans who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen. Trump has declined to say that he will respect the 2024 election results and has said he’s unsure if the coming election will lead to violence.


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