As Indian hybrid war tactics, exposed by EU-based DisinfoLab, continue to get worldwide attention, the think tanks and experts are suggesting Pakistan to formulate new policies, compile disinformation database and use international pressure to curb false information.
“First step that must be taken is amendment in existing laws and adoption of new legislations as per necessities. Moreover, special government offices, compilation of disinformation database and formulation of robust social media policy is need of the hour,” said a reputed journal Eurasia Review in its report titled Legal fights against disinformation: Lessons for Pakistan.”
While highlighting existing international laws and practices being adopted by the developed countries, the report mentioned Tallinn Manual 2.0 – authored by 19 international experts – which applies almost 154 international rules and laws to cyber domain. Under it, ‘Intervention by States’ prohibits a state to intervene [through cyber means] in internal or external affairs of other states. The rule is based on international law’s principle of sovereignty.
In the wake of current smear campaign of spreading false and baseless information targeting Pakistan, its cities and institutions, PTA has stressed upon Twitter to effectively block handles involved in the campaign. pic.twitter.com/Rnt9sLeCAu— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) October 22, 2020
It urged Pakistan to pressure international community to take stringent measures against false information.
It appreciated a recent statement by Pakistan Telecommunication in wake of the smear campaign of spreading false and baseless information targeting Pakistan stressing Twitter to effectively block handles involved in the campaign.
On the domestic front, the magazine suggested Pakistan to further examine its legal regulations to regulate media and platforms and follow practices adopted by developed countries.
The report observed that in recent years, Indian hybrid war tactics against Pakistan had intensified in its bid to isolate Pakistan regionally as well as internationally.
In the latest episode, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Brussels exposed 15-year long Indian attempt to target Pakistan through the proliferation of fake new and disinformation. DisinfoLab in its report titled “Indian Chronicles: Deep Dive into a 15-year Operation Targeting the European Union (EU) and United Nations to Serve Indian Interests,” regard it the “largest network” in order to “discredit Pakistan internationally.”
According to the report, “750+ Indian supported websites scattered across 119 countries have been working within the European Union and the United Nations for the past 15 years to destabilize Pakistan.”
The report argued that the disinformation campaign led by Srivastava Group mainly focused to influence the decisions of European Parliament and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
In 2019, DisinfoLab also unearthed 265 websites, which were working towards similar end.
According to the researchers at DisinfoLab, they had “uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs promoting Indian interests and criticizing Pakistan repeatedly.
It said cyberspace had germinated a new type of warfare that is generally recognized as fifth battlefield, transforming the traditional warfare techniques and responses.
Besides referring to 2017 G-7’s “Declaration on Responsible States Behavior in Cyberspace” (i.e., the “Lucca Declaration”), the journal also suggested that a state that is the victim of an internationally wrongful act may, in certain circumstances, resort to proportionate countermeasures, including measures conducted via ICTs, against the State responsible for the wrongful act in order to cause the responsible State to comply with its international obligations.”
International laws merely save a nation from the menace of disinformation campaigns. This is where the role of national laws comes in, it added.
Poynter Institute Report titled “A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world”, in this regard, provide guidance for legislation against online disinformation.
The report also preferred to use the word ‘misinformation’ rather than ‘disinformation’ in order to cover all angles of the concept.
In order to remove disinformation from online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, Germany passed Network Enforcement Act. Furthermore, France also enacted a law against the manipulation of information in 2018, removing fake content from social media.