NSI 2020

The evolution of the internet and social media has brought the world new ways to stay connected and to share information.  Unfortunately, the ubiquity of social media also raises several national security concerns.  Terrorists use social media to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize fanatics.  Other bad actors, including foreign governments, wage covert operations to spread misinformation and undermine US electoral integrity.  And internal bad actors may seek to undermine the social fabric of the nation through activities that do not contribute to a national dialog but instead lead to imminent threats to the population

In response, some have called for government oversight of internet speech to reduce these threats.  Such efforts, of course, raise significant constitutional concerns, as well as practical questions as to ability of the government to effectively make such judgments.  Likewise, there are significant questions whether technology companies can (or even should) effectively moderate the use of their platforms.  As seen in the 2016 elections and the aftermath of efforts by the Russian government to stoke discord and undermine public confidence in key rule of law institutions, these issues can have a significant impact on our national security and our government’s ability to get the work of the American people done.  As such, a core issue that must be addressed in the next decade is whether, and if so, how, the U.S. government can work with industry to ensure that the innovation they create does not ultimately undermine the relative political and social cohesion that has made America strong for the past century.