Netherlands unprepared against foreign digital threats: General

The Netherlands' intelligence services and Defense are not adequately prepared to map and face digital threats from abroad, Brigadier General Wilfred Rietdijk said to the Volkskrant. He specifically warns against fake news, naming Russia in particular. According to Rietdijk, the Netherlands must establish a new, specialized organization for identifying these threats and preparing for an "information war".

According to Rietdijk, a strategic adviser on National Security and Cyber for the Ministry of Defense, the Netherlands desperately needs a central organization that permanently keeps an eye on which ways democracy is undermined by foreign powers. His department is not up to the task of identifying new techniques used in modern warfare, like fake news, he said to the newspaper.

Incorrect reports and fake news tests the trust of citizens, according to Rietdijk. He believes that the government should step in and correct misinformation. The General calls for the government to cooperate with "important media". The government could confirm to which extent a story is verified, for example. "Media can post that to their report, then we can take a more powerful stand against disinformation", he said, according to the Volkskrant.

Defense expert Ko Colijn is less worried about the fake news threat from Russia, calling it a hype. "Foreign interference in elections is nothing new", he said to the Volkskrant. "Only the means are different. In addition, the Americans do it more often than anyone."