Britain to set up unit to counter fake news

LONDON • Britain will set up a new unit to beef up its efforts to counter so-called "fake news" and to try to deter disinformation campaigns by other states, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May has said.

Mrs May has previously accused Russia of meddling in elections and its state media of planting fake stories and photoshopped images in an attempt to undermine Western institutions. Russia denies interfering in foreign elections, including Britain's June 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

The announcement was made on Tuesday after a meeting of the National Security Council - a mix of ministers and senior security officials - which endorsed the initial findings of a wide-ranging review into Britain's capability to respond to all types of threats.

"We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives," Mrs May's spokesman told reporters. "The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected complex challenges."

He added: "We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others.

"It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities."

The spokesman had no further information on how the unit would operate, or where it would be based.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline 'Britain to set up unit to counter fake news'. Print Edition | Subscribe