Covert influence is the new money laundering

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November 6 2017

Google is the most recent company known to have discovered evidence of Russian covert influence on its books. As more media companies realize Russia bought advertising space or promoted news stories — fake and otherwise — on their platforms, covert influence has become the new money laundering.

Anti-money laundering laws provide useful lessons for combating covert influence and could be adapted for online media models that do not require users to be paid customers.

In the 20th century, the rise of organized criminal enterprises, like the Mafia and drug-smuggling cartels, led law enforcement officers and prosecutors to realize that investigating each murder, each coercion of a legitimate business and each drug shipment was an untenable and unsustainable investigative approach. Meanwhile, tax evasion was difficult to track and combat without documentation that held citizens accountable for their financial assets and earnings.