- Chess legend Garry Kasparov said Russian interference in the U.S. elections via social media platforms amounts to "cyberwar"
- He said that he has been warning about the dangers of Russian meddling for a while
- Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google, found Russian government-backed ads and content on their platforms
Russian interference in the U.S. elections via social media platforms amounts to "cyberwar," chess legend Garry Kasparov told CNBC Wednesday, adding that he has been warning about this for a while.
Over the past few weeks, details have emerged about the extent of Russia's meddling in the U.S. elections. Russian-backed operatives bought ads and posted fake news across sites such as Facebook and Google.
Kasparov, who is chair of the Human Rights Foundation, has been a strong critic of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin over the past few years. And said he has been highlighting the activities of Russia in the cyber world.
"I'm tired of repeating 'I told you so'. For so many years I've been pointing out Putin's activities in Russia, in neighboring countries, in Europe, predicting that he would go elsewhere if he could see potential benefits," Kasparov told CNBC during a TV interview at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
"The whole industry of fake news, supported by troll factories, that was the invention of KGB (the former Soviet Union's state security agency) in Russia to deal with Russian opposition to control the internet. Then they extended this practice to Russian speaking neighborhoods in the former Soviet Union. Then they tried it in Europe. Eventually they successfully tried it in the United States."
Facebook revealed last month that about 80,000 posts backed by Russia got onto the social network over a two year period reaching around 126 million Americans. Twitter found and closed down around 2,700 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, one of the groups linked to Russia. And Google said that Russian-backed operatives had uploaded 1,000 political videos on YouTube across 18 channels.
Kasparov, who is seen as the greatest ever chess player, said it is "ironic" that technology invented in the free world is being used by enemies to "undermine the democratic institutions that make the core of the free world."
"Unless we just recognize whether we like it or not, (we are) at war … It's not an open war, it's a cyberwar and we have to come up with the comprehensive response, we have to work out a policy of deterrents to make sure that all these abusers … will pay unbearable price," Kasparov said.
"And so far there is no political will to make such a strong ultimatum that will stop Putin and other malicious players on the world stage from trying the patience of the free world."
The release of the "Paradise Papers" has also shed light on Russia's links to U.S. business. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was revealed to have business links to a Russian firm with close ties to Putin, that he reportedly didn't disclose. Ross denied that he didn't disclose these links.
Kasparov welcomed the trove of documents that were recently leaked to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and said it could help to uncover the relationship between the U.S. and Russia.
"We are still … at the tip of the iceberg, so there is much more underwater. So I hope that these Paradise Papers … will be very helpful to understand the scope of Russian influence," Kasparov told CNBC.