Prime Minister condemns disinformation campaign, seeks stronger measures to fight cybercrime

Robert Abela condemns growing disinformation campaign asks National Cybersecurity Committee to draw new proposals to fight the phenomenon • Prime Minister was also spoofed a fortnight ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Robert Abela has condemned the disinformation campaign waged by anonymous sources and asked the National Cybersecurity Committee to propose new measures to fight the phenomenon.

The Prime Minister said attempts to spoof websites and individuals, while creating fake online content was of concern.

Abela said he had been a victim of a similar tactic on 15 August when his email address was spoofed. The incident was reported to the Malta Information and Technology Agency.

“While the police force continues with its investigations, the Prime Minister will be asking the National Cybersecurity Committee to use its members’ knowledge to come up with proposals on how best to strengthen the fight against these acts,” a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday read.

“These acts are not only condemnable, but have no place in society,” Abela said.

Abela’s reaction came after the disinformation campaign intensified over the past few days when newsrooms, activists and individual journalists were spoofed. The Prime Minister was criticised by the Opposition for remaining silent despite the growing online threat.

The latest victim on Monday was Opposition leader Bernard Grech, who called for stronger cybercrime laws. Grech denounced the widespread disinformation campaign as ‘dangerous anti-democratic tactics’ and urged the Prime Minister to show urgency in addressing the matter.

Activist group Repubblika will tomorrow hold a demonstration in Valletta at 6:30pm to show solidarity with journalists and activists who have fallen victim of the disinformation campaign.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists last week condemned the disinformation campaign, describing it as a "clear attempt to weaken the fourth pillar of the country's democracy".