FEC approves proposal offering cybersecurity services to campaigns

  • Amisa Ratliff

At today’s Federal Election Commission (FEC) meeting, Chair Ellen Weintraub announced that the commission has issued a final advisory opinion approving the proposal of Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), a bipartisan group (led by former campaign managers of Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns) that plans to offer cybersecurity services to political candidates and party committees at free or reduced rates. Weintraub noted that this process was a good exercise in working together for the historically gridlocked commission, and that this may “be the start of a new and more productive era.”

DDC submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the FEC in September 2018, outlining their plans to provide cybersecurity services, including information sharing, a hotline, “bootcamps,” advanced training, incident response, and software and hardware, to campaigns and nongovernmental organizations across the ideological spectrum.

Due to the unprecedented scale of foreign cyberattacks and the nonpartisan nature of DDC’s  proposal to help prevent against such cybersecurity threats, the commission approved the group to take “particular, carefully defined, and limited actions” to address these threats. While it will be a 501(c)4 nonprofit group, which legally does not have to disclose its donors and can accept money from almost any source, the FEC’s approval is conditioned upon public disclosure of all donations, a commitment not to accept donations from foreign nationals, and a commitment to accept donations only from individuals, foundations, and standard corporations (not dark money groups or groups that can serve as pass-through entities).