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B.C. needs change to keep cyber threats out of its election process: report

Last Updated May 25, 2020 at 1:59 pm PDT

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Summary

B.C.'s chief electoral officer recommends government make several changes to protect the provincial electoral process

Anton Boegman says cyber threats have jeopardized the integrity of free and fair elections around the world

An election in B.C. is scheduled for 2021

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s chief electoral officer is recommending the government make several changes to protect the provincial electoral process from foreign interference, misleading advertising, and impersonation.

A report submitted to the legislature from Anton Boegman says cyber threats have jeopardized the integrity of free and fair elections around the world.

“As British Columbians work to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that currently there are other, much more pressing priorities for the Legislative Assembly,” Boegman said. “But, I encourage legislators to take proactive steps to safeguard our electoral process before the province’s next provincial election, currently scheduled for October 16, 2021.”

The report says that while such threats haven’t been widely seen in the province, the risks they represent to the electoral process are real.

Disinformation campaigns and election interference have been well documented during the 2016 Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the U.S. election in 2016.

Boegman’s report says cyber threats operate in a space that hasn’t been contemplated by current legislation and they compromise provisions intended for a fair, transparent and accountable election process.

If adopted by members of the legislature, the report says the recommendations would give Elections BC tools regulate digital campaigning and mitigate the risks of the threats to electoral integrity.

2020-CEO-Recommendations