FBI Will Report Cyber Breaches to States: Campaign Update

Alyza Sebenius

(Bloomberg) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation plans to notify both state and local officials if election systems are breached, marking a change from past elections when only local officials needed to be notified.

“The FBI’s new policy mandates the notification of a chief state election official and local election officials of cyber threats to local election infrastructure,” the bureau said in a statement Thursday.

Government officials, speaking on a press call with reporters on Thursday, said that the new policy came about because they recognized that election systems are different than other kinds of infrastructure -- in which breach notifications typically only go to direct administrators. While local officials oversee election infrastructure, state officials certify election results and should be aware of intrusions, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“Cyber intrusions affecting election infrastructure have the potential to cause significant negative impacts on the integrity of elections,” the FBI said. “Decisions surrounding notification continue to be dependent on the nature and breadth of an incident and the nature of the infrastructure impacted.”

Sanders Says He’d Rather Be in Iowa (4:30 p.m.)

Bernie Sanders scoffed at the idea of skipping the Senate’s impeachment trial to campaign in Iowa despite having only 18 days left to make his case in the first nominating state.

“Would I rather be in Iowa? I would. But this is my job,” the Vermont senator told reporters after the swearing-in session.

Sanders and fellow Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado, will have to stay in Washington to sit as jurors in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The time off the trail so close to the caucuses could affect what polling indicates will be a tight race. Sanders is tied for first with Joe Biden at 20% in Iowa, followed by Pete Buttigieg at nearly 19% and Warren with 16%, in the RealClearPolitics average. -- Emma Kinery

Buttigieg Says Zuckerberg Has Too Much Power (2:24 p.m.)

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has too much power and that there is a strong case for the social media giant to be broken up.

“No one company and no one person should have the kind of power that they’ve accumulated,” Buttigieg told The New York Times editorial board in an interview published Thursday.

Buttigieg said he had concerns about the company’s data security and privacy practices as well as its monopoly power, namely Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp. “At a certain level, instead of the burden being on the state to demonstrate that some of these mergers will be harmful, I think the burden should be on the company to demonstrate that they won’t,” he said.

The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor has not been as vocal as a critic of big tech as presidential rivals such as Elizabeth Warren, who paid for billboards in San Francisco calling for breaking up big tech companies. Moreover, Buttigieg has been criticized for his coziness with Silicon Valley, where he has held many private fundraisers and raised millions of dollars.

Buttigieg was also asked in the Times interview about his relationship with Zuckerberg, who, as Bloomberg News first reported, quietly made staff recommendations to the Buttigieg campaign. “So, we were in college at the same time, got a lot of mutual friends, and it doesn’t mean we agree on a lot of things,” Buttigieg said. They both attended Harvard University. -- Tyler Pager

More Than One Democrat Could Claim Iowa Victory (12:31 p.m.)

Changes in how the Iowa Democratic Party will report results of the Feb. 3 caucuses could allow three different candidates to claim victory — though only one number will count in the all-important race for delegates.

For decades, Democrats have reported Iowa results in terms of state delegate equivalents — an estimate of the number of representatives each candidate will have at a statewide caucus to nominate Iowa’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention. That’s still the number that will be used by the state and state and national parties, and the Associated Press said Thursday it would use that number as well.

But this year, as part of a push toward greater transparency following the contested 2016 caucuses, Iowa will report two other numbers:

First allocation: The total number of caucus goers supporting each candidate in the first round of selection.Final allocation: The total number of caucus goers supporting each candidate after nonviable contenders — those who fail to meet a threshold of at least 15% — are eliminated in each precinct.

Most campaigns have committed to using the state delegate equivalents, but a lower-polling candidate could benefit from touting a strong showing in the first round. -- Gregory Korte

COMING UP:

The Democratic presidential candidates will debate again in New Hampshire on Feb. 7.

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11. Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22 and South Carolina has a primary on Feb. 29.

(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

--With assistance from Gregory Korte, Tyler Pager and Emma Kinery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alyza Sebenius in Washington at asebenius@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Magan Crane, Max Berley

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