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France Doubles Down on Countering Foreign Interference Ahead of Key Elections

November 30th, 2021 14:50

US media is report­ing that the French gov­ern­ment has begun struc­tur­ing a per­ma­nent mon­i­tor­ing and response capa­bil­i­ty to counter for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions. Accord­ing to a Law­fare report:

Novem­ber 22, 2021 A recent report by Cardiff Uni­ver­si­ty showed that pro-Russ­ian trolls have been busy tar­get­ing 32 Euro­pean media out­lets, such as Le Figaro (France), Die Welt (Ger­many) and La Stam­pa (Spain).  France has expe­ri­enced this wave first­hand. In 2017, hack­ers affil­i­at­ed with Russia’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence (GRU) exfil­trat­ed inter­nal emails and doc­u­ments from Emmanuel Macron’s cam­paign team. The “Macron Leaks,” as it was then named, saw a mix of gen­uine and fab­ri­cat­ed cam­paign mate­ri­als spread through social networks—starting with WikiLeaks—and ampli­fied by the U.S. far right. In 2020, after the mur­der of high school teacher Samuel Paty, Turk­ish-affil­i­at­ed trolls launched a wide-rang­ing anti-French cam­paign, crit­i­ciz­ing its prin­ci­ples of laïc­ité and free­dom of expres­sion, amid a moment of dete­ri­o­rat­ing bilat­er­al rela­tions that led Paris to recall its ambas­sador from Turkey. Although this for­eign infor­ma­tion oper­a­tion did not have the same impact on pub­lic opin­ion as the Macron Leaks, the gov­ern­ment per­ceived it as anoth­er wake-up call.  In response to these polit­i­cal­ly desta­bi­liz­ing oper­a­tions, the French gov­ern­ment has begun struc­tur­ing a per­ma­nent mon­i­tor­ing and response capability.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the Law­fare report, France has cre­at­ed an office to counter for­eign media manip­u­la­tion called Vig­iNum, which began oper­at­ing last month. The French gov­ern­ment allo­cat­ed an annu­al bud­get of 12 mil­lion euros to the group, and an in-house expert work­force of 65, com­prised of data sci­en­tists, social media ana­lysts, and geopol­i­tics experts.

We have exten­sive­ly cov­ered for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions tar­get­ing France.