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Democracy in the Crosshairs: Cyber Interference, Dark Money and Foreign Influence

November 01, 2018

Thursday, November 1 | 12:00 AM - Saturday, November 3 | 11:59 PM EDT
Fitts Auditorium, University of Pennsylvania Law School

International law has long recognized that some infringements of another state’s sovereignty are sufficiently grave as to constitute a violation of international law, if not a casus belli. Recent cases of election interference, however, have more publicly exposed the uncertainty over the application of the general principle of non-intervention and whether attacks against democratic institutions would violate international law. Consider, for example, a cyber-attack from a foreign state that compromises the voting machines used during a democratic election. Contrast that cyber-attack with so-called “information warfare” that might involve the hacking of private correspondence and releasing it publicly via Wikileaks, or the use of social media and troll farms to spread disinformation and fake news. Add to this scenario large amounts of untraceable, illicit money transfers between an array of state and non-state actors intended to support these influence operations while making reliable legal or political attribution severely complicated. Do these infringements on the political process violate international law and if so, what should the necessary legal and political responses be?  Read more.


Event Organizers

  • Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy
  • University of Pennsylvania Office of Information Security
  • Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania