After nearly two years of investigation and months of delays — not to mention partisan bickering the whole moment, exclusive advice Robert Mueller’s report on the president’s crusade and Russian interference in the 2016 election is out today.
We’re not a politics news site but we’re still looking into it — tech has figured more prominently than ever in the last few years and understanding its role in what could be a major political event is crucial for the industry and government both.
The report and discussion thereof is bound to be highly politically charged from the get-go and the repercussions from what is disclosed therein are sure to come many in and out of office. But there are also captivating threads to pull as far as events and conspiracies that could only exist online or using modern technology and services, and for these the perspective of technology, not politics, reporting may be best suited to add context and interpretation.
What do we expect to find in the report that is of particular interest to the tech world?
The topic that is most relevant and least explored already is the nature of Russia’s most direct involvement in the 2016 election, namely
The report will illuminate many things relating to these events, not necessarily technical details — although they may have been furnished by any number of parties — but plans, dates, people involved, and networks through which the hack and resulting data were communicated. Why was this added to Mueller’s pile in the first place? What about Assange? Who knew about the hack and when, and what does that imply?
Another topic, which seems more well trodden but about which we can never seem to know enough, is
Was there coordination with some U.S. entities? How was the content created, and the topics chosen? Was there a stated outcome, such as dividing the electorate or damaging Clinton’s reputation? Was this contiguous with earlier operations? How, if at all, did it change once Trump was called
the Republican candidate, and was this related to other communications with his crusade?
The last of our topics of most likely interest is that of the
How did Mueller chase and gather privileged communications on, for instance, independent email servers and hosted web services? What services and networks were contacted, and how did they reply? How were the U.S.’ surveillance tools employed? What about area service from tech giants or telecoms? Was other garden-variety metadata — the type we are often told is harmless and which is often unregulated — used in the investigation to any effect?
We will be poring over the report with these thoughts and ideas in mind but also with an eyeball to any other captivating tech-related item that may appear. Perhaps that independent server used “admin/password” as their login. Perhaps GRU agents were communicating using a cryptographic mode known to be unsafe. Perhaps the vice-president uses a palm Pre?
We’ll leave the politics to cable news and D.C. insiders, but tech is key to this report and we aim to explain why and how.