The US Presidential Elections are barely 100 days away. As most of us are aware, foreign interference changed a lot many things during the 2016 elections. In a bid to thwart any situation like that, the US Department of State has stated that any person who could provide any information about any interference in the US elections would be rewarded with an amount of up to $10 million.
According to reports, the reward is particularly for those hackers who would be operating with foreign governments. As the Department of State points out, there could be many illegal and malicious activities taking place underneath. It went on to state, “Foreign adversaries could employ malicious cyber operations targeting election infrastructure, including voter registration databases and voting machines, to impair an election in the United States … Such adversaries could also conduct malicious cyber operations against US political organizations or campaigns to steal confidential information and then leak that information as part of influence operations to undermine political organizations or candidates.”
The State Department has mentioned that it would reward that person who provides specific “information leading to the identification or location of any person who works with or for a foreign government for the purpose of interfering with US elections through certain illegal cyber activities.”
The Rewards for Justice Program had started sometime back in 1984. The Diplomatic Security Service is managing it. Thanks to this program, amounts of about $150 million have been awarded to over 100 people. Rewards of amounts greater than $25 million will be given if the Secretary of State feels that a huge amount is necessary for tackling terrorism or protecting the United States against terrorist acts. However, for any unethical activities surrounding the US elections, the amount has been set up to $10 million.
As November is fast-approaching, there are already many reports of foreign election interference floating around. Sometime in February this year, intelligence officials had reported that Russia is up to something with regards to the 2020 election campaign in a bid to help President Trump’s election win again. Around the same time, officials had also stated that Russia was intervening in the Democratic primary bid to help Bernie Sanders win.
This year, there is another threat looming over the US elections, all thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are afraid to visit the polling booths on election day due to the virus scare. However, some states would be providing the option to vote via mail to contain the spread of the disease. Election experts have predicted that many states could face issues ahead of November. For instance, there could be delays in votes owing to mail ballots arriving late. Then, there could be fewer turnouts of poll workers owing to the pandemic that could ultimately lead in serpentine queues at polling booths.
Posters containing the reward announcement have been designed in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Spanish. Anyone having any information regarding foreign election interference is expected to contact Rewards for Justice via email or on their helpline numbers.
Image source: TheVerge