Sunday, August 02, 2020

US report finds 'sustained and deliberate' Russian disinformation campaign against the UK

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Here's a report on Russian influence in the United Kingdom that the Conservative Party can't suppress for months.

It's published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington DC.

The report's conclusion begins:
For the last 15 years or so, Russia has waged a sustained and deliberate disinformation campaign in the United Kingdom that is designed to weaken the United Kingdom internally and diminish its position in the world. Specific disinformation efforts have included exploiting minority grievances, encouraging separatist movements, amplifying anti-EU sentiments, and trying to inflict reputational damage upon the United Kingdom’s role in NATO and the value of its relationship with the United States. Through these efforts, Russia hoped to sow division within the United Kingdom, exacerbate distrust between the public and leaders, and distort the public conversation. 
However, Russia did not create the conditions that allowed disinformation and other malign influence activities to thrive in the United Kingdom. Rather, it merely capitalized upon longstanding divisions, political and societal vulnerabilities, regulatory gaps in campaign financing and advertising, and a less regulated social media landscape to further its objectives. This suggests that identifying and repairing a country’s specific vulnerabilities may be equally if not more important in combating malign influence activities than identifying which malign influence activities have the greatest impact. 
And it ends:
In the end, disinformation and other influence activities are not about a single incident but rather the cumulative effect. Left unchecked, it will gradually erode the United Kingdom’s position in the world as well as internal measures of resilience. These include the credibility of the government and elected leaders, citizens’ confidence in democratic processes, the existence of free and fair elections and an independent judiciary, a diverse and independent media environment, and vibrant public discourse. If the distinction between false and genuine is permitted to erode—and the commitment to pursue the truth is abandoned—the broader consequences for open, democratic societies will be severe.
It does feel strange to have lived long enough to see a Conservative prime minister play down the threat from Moscow.

1 comment:

nigel hunter said...

This must be more widely distributed.