As Canada and the United States gear up for national elections in 2019 and 2020, no political operative can avoid the looming questions that were first posed during the 2016 American presidential election: in an age when data has the power to sink a campaign, what is the best way to build effective communication strategies that are not vulnerable to hacking?
Already, there are signs that the dirty tricks that marred the 2016 showdown between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — including shadowy information leaks, email hacks, and social media fake news manipulation — are set to become features of political combat in the twenty-first century.
In January 2019, CBC reported that hundreds of fake Facebook pages linked to Russia had been actively disseminating propaganda meant to affect the upcoming federal election. While Facebook took the pages down, it is a sign that Canadian politicians will need to be aware that foreign powers are actively seeking to influence the democratic process.
This should set off alarm bells for campaign managers and political organizers across the country. If foreign powers are already gearing up to use social media tactics to influence the outcome of the 2019 election, they may well already be preparing to compromise politicians by mining their personal communications for salacious or damaging information.
If political operatives want to keep their campaigns safe and protect the integrity of the democratic process, they need to make sure that their communications are protected from day one of the campaign itself. This means adopting the kind of innovative integrated end to end encrypted messaging protocol that will keep their communication data safe without inhibiting their ability to maintain quick and efficient round the clock contact with staffers and party officials.
Fortunately, encryption technology has already improved significantly since 2016, and there are now tools on the market that can offer both high levels of functionality and total protection. Companies like ChatMail Secure have pioneered a new approach to the encrypted smartphone that relies on an easy-to-use platform to offer integrated PGP and Elliptical Curve Cryptography encryption solutions.
When using ChatMail’s proprietary Advanced Messaging and Parsing Protocol (CAMP), political staffers have access to chat messaging, group chat, anonymous group chat, voice messaging, and image messaging.
Because the software is easy to use, even non-tech experts can quickly master encryption tools such as tamper-proofing, automatic message delete, new key generation, and message saving that will help them keep their communications safe.
During political campaigns, it is important for candidates and their staff to communicate quickly and effectively. But it is also important to be able to communicate candidly — and this kind of candour can easily be misinterpreted or twisted by the press or rival campaigns should it fall into the wrong hands.
As Canada’s politicians prepare for what is already shaping up to be an intense campaign season, and many Canadians admit to being worried that it will not be free from outside meddling.
Campaigns that want to limit their vulnerability and maintain control of their message will need to ensure they remain untouched by damaging data breaches and embarrassing hacks. Increasingly, this will mean adopting encryption tools like ChatMail designed to be absolutely security and absolutely flexible.