The Federal Election Commission could decide today whether nonpartisan groups can offer political campaigns free cybersecurity services, an issue that has made bedfellows of Republicans and Democrats but divided cyber pros and campaign finance hawks.
The proposal’s authors, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager Robby Mook and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager Matt Rhoades, come to the issue from bitter experience. The Romney campaign was targeted by Chinese hackers, and Clinton’s campaign was upended by a Russian hacking and disinformation operation aimed at helping Donald Trump.
The bipartisan duo want to help presidential and congressional campaigns steer clear of similar hacking operations by allowing nonprofits to provide cybersecurity free of charge. But first they need the FEC to say those services don’t amount to an illegal campaign contribution….
The plan is a hit with many cybersecurity pros who say campaigns aren’t equipped to defend themselves against sophisticated, government-backed hacking operations from Russia and China, and think this might level the playing field.
Good-government advocates, however, say the proposal creates a loophole for cybersecurity and tech companies — or other nonprofit groups — to secretly curry favor with politicians. It’s not just the bipartisan group that could offer protections for free, but any nonprofit that wants to.