Dutch intelligence services help the US to disturb Russian interference

THE HAGUE - Dutch intelligence and safety services AIVD, MIVD, and the National Police cooperated with American services to disrupt an interference attempt that most likely came from the Russian government at the end of last month. The services think it is "very likely" that the Russian government is involved with the development of the software used to create troll accounts that get involved in public debates. 

This concerns just under a thousand artificial intelligence-generated fake accounts developed in a so-called troll factory. These accounts spread fake news and disinformation. The Russian campaign was allegedly aimed at the American presidential elections, which will be held this autumn. "There is no indication that the offensive cyber campaign was set up to influence the public debate in the Netherlands or Europe," said ministers Judith Uitermark (Interior Affairs) and Ruben Brekelmans (Defense). 

Russia's operation "fits in with the norm in which Russia constantly tries to portray Western countries in a bad light, undermine mutual unity, and influence public opinion. This is targeting societal uncertainties and pro-Russian and anti-Western sentiments," the ministers said in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch Parliament. 

The "international disruption operation" was a collaboration between the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF). 

They made the research public in consultation, with the aim of making social media platforms more resilient to fake accounts. Earlier this year, the Tweede Kamer asked the Cabinet to make information about cyber attacks public more often.