"Since 2022, Russia has been waging an information war against France"

“Since 2022, Russia has been waging an information war against France”

Why is Russian interference so targeted at France?

Since 2022, Russia has been waging an information war against France because our country supports the Ukrainian resistance and supports the action of the European Union so that Russia does not win this war. The intoxication operations escalated a notch at the end of 2023, when France adopted a very firm stance towards Vladimir Putin. The enemies of democracy have invaded the digital space, particularly social networks, where our fellow citizens, both French and European, now get their information very widely.

How is our country responding?

France is at the forefront of the fight against foreign digital interference. In 2018, we adopted a law against the manipulation of information. Three years later, we created the first service dedicated to the detection and attribution of informational maneuvers, Viginum, which has no equivalent in Europe. Since 2022, this service has thwarted half a dozen instances of interference, not necessarily Russian, by the way. When it presided over the Council of the European Union, France also promoted the Digital Services Act, which requires major social media platforms to combat illicit and harmful content online. I myself introduced a law penalizing the malicious use of deepfakesSince June 5, this arsenal has been supplemented by a law aimed at preventing interference, by allowing intelligence services to use algorithms to detect this type of operation in advance.

You say that France is at the forefront. However, experts point out the wrong assessment of the Russian offensive…

Everyone underestimated the fact that letting digital invade the democratic space would undermine the robustness of public debate. It is up to democracy to seize digital, not for digital to seize democracy. Awareness is becoming widespread in Europe. With my German and Polish counterparts, we presented, last May, to the 27 Ministers of European Affairs, an action programme to build a democratic shield.

In 2023, the Assembly’s committee of inquiry into foreign interference pointed out thenaivete »or even theconnivance »of certain public actors… We need to regain control of the public debate, which is far too vulnerable to this type of interference.

Are there political forces that have benefited, directly or indirectly, from these foreign digital interferences? The answer is yes, since the type of messages conveyed have coincided with certain theses supported by parties at the extremes of the political spectrum.

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