DALLAS - FBI officials are keeping a close watch on potential election interference efforts in the weeks leading up to November’s general election.
“We also have concerns as we approach the election that there will be potentially efforts to prevent people from having their voice heard,” the FBI said in a memorandum from its Dallas office.
There are no specific credible threats, but officials are concerned about foreign governments trying to make inroads. Homeland security officials on Tuesday identified China as one of the most active countries.
FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said there are some who will try to take advantage of protests to cause disruption in American cities.
“Groups or individuals will try to use that exercise of First Amendment freedom to commit violence or criminal activity. That’s what we want to prevent,” DeSarno said.
Another concern is disinformation shared through social media. DeSarno urges people to check the source of information if they see something election-related.
As Texas gets ready for early voting a week from now, the FBI is also meeting with local county election administrators.
“To ensure that they are aware we've shared sensitive threat information with them and we've provided information to our partners at DHS about how they can ensure that they have good cyber-security leading up to the election,” DeSarno said.
The FBI and National Counterintelligence and Security Center have also released a 30 minute movie. The Nevernight Connection is fictional film based on a real case of someone being targeted by a foreign government.
“To demonstrate how the Chinese Communist party is utilizing social networking and professional networking applications to reach out to and potentially recruit people who can be of value to them,” DeSarno said.
Battles are being waged in cyberspace and public streets to protect what’s most important to American democracy.
The FBI urges people to be cautious about what you post and who you accept connection requests from on social media. Also, if you see something on social media about long lines or voting equipment problems, verify that with your local elections department.
“[We want] the election process to remain as it has been for many years -- free and fair, and that the perception that it is free and fair remain intact,” DeSarno said.