“No, I didn’t touch the propaganda classification. That would have had a stronger effect on the voters, but that code is audited too much. My code only pushed the Amendment topic, actively pushed it in front of Nebraska users more than they’d want.”
The panel stared at Lea impassively. Finally, Anderson asked, merely as clarification, “So, you thought, the more that people bothered to think about it, the more Amendment supporters there would be.”
“Yes. Not just my opinion, our research supported it.”
Lea had been caught. The tipoff was not generated by the software surveillance. Rather, the Bank Secrecy Commission had flagged a huge money transfer to an entity that, it theorized, was accessible to a number of individuals, including Lea. KTS head Kam Diba had been duly alerted to the investigation, and he ordered a secret analysis of recent software changes, which in due course outed Lea’s action.
Lea’s life sentence was all but assured, though that was not the cause of the beads of sweat on his temples. The true source of the money transfer had been expertly obscured through a sketchy religious organization, and Lea had been sticking closely to an awkward but airtight explanation for their munificence. Still, the panel had grounds for suspicion about external actors.
Lea attempted to portray his motive as ideological. “Society desperately needs this Amendment, and it just needs a nudge. And I made a bad gamble, and I am sorry, and my punishment will be appropriate. I made oaths, and I violated them.”
Kam’s mouth tightened.
Lea was led away by the officer, and the panel conferred. The Deputy Director turned to Kam and asked, “So, you believe damage was minimal?”
Kam nodded. “Yes. I won’t lie: eight hundred thousand interactions were affected. But our decision-reasoning models indicate—with 95% confidence—that no more than 3,400 votes could be swung.”
“And you believe,” said the Deputy Director sardonically, “that the ratification vote will not be that close?”