Ireland’s Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is drafting rules to ban political parties from accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as election donations.
Minister Darragh O’Brien, who oversees elections and electoral reform, had created a task force in January to recommend laws that maintain electoral integrity.
The main concern is to protect the country from cyberattacks and disinformation coming from Russian-affiliated agents. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has worsened Ireland’s worries.
According to O’Brien, the task force provided a “broad set of recommendations to develop a legal and digital bastion against malign interference in our elections.”
In addition to banning cryptocurrency donations, the amendments — introduced by a newly created Election Commission — will restrict requirements for donations from abroad and give the government the power to demand that content be removed from social media platforms.
Russian hackers and intelligence agents have been targeting Western governments and US political infrastructure for the past decade. During the 2016 US presidential election, Russia had bought Facebook ads and state agents posing as Americans took to social media to annoy people from both parties.
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community — made up of the Central Intelligence Agency (or CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (or FBI) and 15 other agencies —, RT Americaa government-funded operation, was “the main international media group for Kremlin propaganda”.
Intelligence agencies are sure that RTwhich also aired “The Keiser Report,” starring bitcoin maximalist Max Keiser, was part of a fake news campaign led by President Vladimir Putin.
During the 2020 US general election, Russian hackers managed to break into several government databases — in some cases, they gained access to (but did not change) election data.
In 2021, the US Treasury Department sanctioned cryptocurrency addresses allegedly used by the Russian Internet Research Agency as part of an initiative to undermine the integrity of the election.
*Translated by Daniela Pereira do Nascimento with permission from decrypt.co.