Czech form police fake news unit to defend against Putin

putin-buzz1The Czech Republic is setting up a new counter-terrorism unit to combat the rise of fake news or “foreign disinformation campaigns.”

Dubbed the “The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats” the unit will start operations on January 1.

Apparently the new center will monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as “disinformation campaigns related to internal security.”

Czech spooks have been allowed that the Russians have been running disinformation and cyber-espionage activities against the Czech Republic, European Union and NATO. The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election next year and it is a bit worried that Tsar Putin will attempt to put his favour candidate in power – in much the same way as he did in the US elections.

According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) annual report, Russia in 2015 used “influence and information operations” to try to manipulate public opinion in the Czech Republic in relation to Syria and Ukraine. Russia is involved in conflicts in both these countries.

The report claimed that Russia’s hybrid warfare operations included “weakening the strength of Czech media” through “covert infiltration of Czech media and the Internet, massive production of Russian propaganda and disinformation controlled by the state.”

Russian operations included founding puppet organizations, the “covert and open support of populist or extremist subjects,” and “disrupting the coherence and readiness of NATO and the EU.”

“The above-mentioned activities pose a threat to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO not only in relation to the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. “The infrastructure created for achieving these goals will not disappear with the end of the two conflicts. It can be used to destabilise or manipulate Czech society or political environment at any time, if Russia wishes to do so.”

According to the Czech interior ministry, its new unit won’t be interrogating anyone, censoring online content or bringing legal proceedings, nor will it “have a button for ‘switching off the internet.'” But it will monitor threats, inform the public about “serious cases of disinformation” and promote internal security expertise.