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Clarifications needed

The government must provide full information about the flood of social media accounts that have been used to favor the Catalan independence movement

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a press conference in Moscow on November 14.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a press conference in Moscow on November 14.AFP

The Spanish government must explain what it knows about the worrying cyber activities that have been detected originating from Russian territory aimed at interfering in the Catalan independence crisis. And the best place to do this is in parliament. The main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) has requested that the details about the flood of accounts used to spread stories online that are favorable to the pro-independence cause be supplied in the Reserved Expenses commission in Congress, which is usually used to deal with official secrets. And they propose that it be Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría – who is ultimately responsible for the CNI Spanish secret service – who should appear in the commission.

Threats can originate in any country that has the ability to try to damage the democratic values that prevail in Europe

Due to its very nature, this commission can offer the necessary framework of confidentiality so that deputies can be informed of the reach of the operations that have been stemmed from pro-Russian portals with the aim of interfering in the pro-independence drive. Without putting at risk national security, the government will have the chance to detail the origin as well as the purpose of the huge rise in traffic on social networks of messages designed to smear the reputation of Spain and its democratic credibility.

The Foreign and Defense ministries have confirmed that there has been foreign interference via digital networks located in Russia and Venezuela. Given the scale of the threat for Spain – and by extension all of Europe – posed by the circulation on the internet of fake news stories disguised as genuine reports, the government should use all of the technological means within its reach to bring these practices to light.

It is not enough to simply focus on Russia, whose regime uses disinformation as a weapon of political influence. Threats can originate in any country that has the ability to try to damage the democratic values that prevail in Europe. The European Union requires an efficient defensive shield to contain these waves.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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