The international community should identify a global platform that would be able to prevent people from spreading disinformation, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Global Security Forum Tuesday.
The two-day event, inaugurated by HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani at St Regis Doha, is exploring the security challenges posed by the proliferation of modern disinformation campaign and the serious implications this has on an increasingly interconnected world.
The opening ceremony was attended by a number of ministers, senior officials from several countries, diplomats and other dignitaries.
Participating in a Fireside Chat with Ali Velshi, MSNBC anchor and business correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, Sheikh Mohamed said disinformation is one of the major threats to international security.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani during the Fireside Chat. PICTURE: Thajudheen
“It is very important now that people who spread any disinformation whether state or non-state actors, need to be made accountable for the crimes they commit. We need to identify a global platform to make sure that people carry out their activities in a more responsible manner,” stated Sheikh Mohamed.
“We have experienced the negative impacts of disinformation in Qatar as the Gulf Crisis was based on a cyber attack purposely carried out to spread disinformation against the country. The entire crisis was built up based on this and the smear campaign against Qatar started from there,” recalled Sheikh Mohamed.
HE the foreign minister said the disinformation campaign launched against Qatar was meant to purposely affect public opinion with the intention of changing the people's opinion to certain policies.
“We believe that it is very important that the international community addresses the issue of disinformation very seriously. We have to hold the people who are leading the disinformation accountable,” he said.
“Such bad practices can affect the lives of people in a big way and can even ignite wars. In Qatar, we have built the capacity to face any disinformation campaign but with the emerging modern technologies, it is difficult to keep up with such attacks and face the challenges effectively. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in his address at the UN General Assembly last year, had called for an international agreement for cyber security to address cyber threats,” he said.
The deputy premier maintained Al Jazeera is a news channel that is independent in its editorial policies and the Government of Qatar does not interfere in any of its decisions. Replying to a question about Muslim Brotherhood and other organisations, Sheikh Mohamed said: “Qatar does not support any such groups and we have proven it time and again. We support only the legitimate governments in any of the countries.”
K Shanmugam, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister Law of Singapore in another interaction, said that the lack of interdependence between national institutions significantly affects democratic and civilised societies, especially in dealing with disinformation that may be detrimental to many interests.
“Disinformation can affect the people in a negative manner and there is a need for more community awareness. The youth are specially prone to be impacted negatively by such news. Societies should do their utmost to reduce the negative aspects due to harmful information. A law has been enacted in Singapore to deal with those who publish fake news. There is the need to enact policies and laws to fight the spread of misleading information. Such laws will act as deterrents and are effective. It will help in reducing fake news or disinformation and will ensure constitutional rights for all,” added the official.