France sets up a unit to fight against foreign fake news

After the European Union with its EastStratCom agency and the United Kingdom with its National Security Communications Team (NSCT), it is France’s turn to set up an organization in charge of dealing with attempts to destabilize the State via digital interference, Viginium (“vigilance and protection service against foreign digital interference”).

According to decree n° 2021-922 published on 14 July 2021, the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security is now empowered to take action against all “allegations or the denunciation of facts that are manifestly inaccurate or misleading and likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation”.

It is placed under the control of an “Ethics and Scientific Committee” tasked with evaluating the responses that can be adopted against this threat.

Viginium has only recently been activated, with 70 officials on board. It will, in particular, be monitoring foreign digital interference during the upcoming presidential election campaign.

During the 2016 campaign, a foreign state (probably Russia) released the internal emails of the Macron team (Macron leaks). However, this information being accurate, it fell outside Viginium’s purview.