Submission to Inquiry on external political interference

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The Justice Committee has closed calls for submissions on its Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and 2016 Local Elections. The Inquiry will investigate:

“… on the specific issue of how New Zealand can protect its democracy from inappropriate foreign interference …”


Mr Curtis Barnes and Mr Tom Barraclough, research fellows, have made submission speaking to the Committee’s second specific concern:

“the risk that political campaigns based through social media can be made to appear as though they are domestic but are in fact created or driven by external entities”

Mr Barnes and Mr Barraclough are lead researchers on the Perception Inception Project, which investigates emerging synthetic audiovisual media technologies. Part of this has included developing an understanding of the deceptive potential of these technologies, and their capacity for use by external entities to influence domestic politics.

The researchers are also authors of a chapter on the growing impacts of synthetic media technologies in international security, being considered for publication in an edited collection on emerging technologies and international security.

In the course of the Project, the researchers have spoken with industry leaders responsible for both creating and detecting synthetic media, including discussions with researchers involved in DARPA’s “Media Forensics” program.

The submissions emphasise the need for awareness of the rapidly emerging methods for external interference that will be difficult to detect.

The full submission will be made available here and can also be viewed here.