Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Respekt: New centre against cyber terrorism may be useful

ČTK |
10 January 2017

Prague, Jan 9 (CTK) - The foundation of a Czech centre against terrorism and hybrid threats has been challenged as an alleged effort to introduce Internet censorship, yet the centre may play an important role, Erik Tabery writes in weekly Respekt out on Monday.

President Milos Zeman and part of Czech politicians reject the new centre aimed at fighting terrorists operating on the Internet, arguing that it would introduce censorship. Such reaction is rather surprising from politicians who otherwise support all activities that are to "fight terrorism," Tabery writes.

These politicians may be afraid of being caught in the net themselves because the main weapon in cyber space is manipulation, he adds.

The centre should operate irrespective of whether some politicians like it or not, Tabery writes.

However, the idea has its own risks. The representatives of the new centre say they will refute also statements made by Czech politicians if needed, Tabery writes.

He says some politicians manipulate the public, yet other politicians, journalists and analysts should disprove their statements, and not a state office - and especially not the Interior Ministry, at which the centre started operating.

It might happen that the centre would become part of the political struggle on the domestic scene, which would not be good at all, Tabery writes.

Though Czechs seem to be in a schizophrenic situation where the centre should also protect society from Russian interests, which are represented by President Zeman, this is something that the public has to cope with rather than such an institution, Tabery writes.

The centre may be very useful if it offers systemic solutions to defence against cyber terrorism and if it informs the public only in cases that might threaten the democratic development of the country and in which the available facts clearly differ from the disinformation being spread, Tabery writes, adding that such a vision was presented by Eva Romancovova, from the Interior Ministry.

Tabery writes that a world war is being waged on the Internet since it has been hitting countries on all continents.

The outbreak of this virtual war seems to be the moment when Islamic State started filming brutal executions of their captives or destruction of conquered historical cities in order to spread fear even thousands of kilometers away, Tabery writes.

When world media applied the reasonable strategy of not releasing these videos, the terrorists moved to social networking sites, created thousands of false accounts and shared their videos in this way. Once they saw that it was effective, video recording began an integral part of all terrorist attacks, Tabery writes.

Moreover, the terrorists use even fabricated events to cause fear and confusion on social networking sites, for example by presenting pictures of past violence as fresh cases. This is not only the case of Islamic State, however. Propaganda is currently the most effective weapon of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tabery writes.

He writes about a case of a woman who supplied made-up refugee attacks in Germany to Russian media last year. This turned out after an affair concerning a Russian girl allegedly raped by refugees in Germany started, which the German and Russian foreign ministers were dealing with, Tabery writes.

He says Russia wants to present the West as weak and incapable of defending itself or to cause political upheaval and weaken the positions of foreign governments and politicians whom the Kremlin does not like.

The establishment of the Czech centre against terrorism is an adequate reaction to the situation in the world. It also has a symbolic dimension, showing that the country does not want to be an easy prey of anybody who has bad intentions. This is a message sent not only to enemies, but also to allies who started questioning where the country wants to belong, Tabery writes, adding that a number of world media appreciated the formation of the centre.

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