Sweden Creates Agency to Combat Fake News

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Sweden, which is holding a general election in September, has joined France in creating an agency to combat disinformation.

The mission of the Swedish Psychological Defense Agency is to "defend our open and democratic society and free opinions by identifying, analyzing and responding to inappropriate influences and other misleading information directed at Sweden or Swedish interests."

The agency, which started up Jan. 1, has departments that respectively "identify, analyze and respond to the impact of undue information influence and other misleading information" and "to develop and strengthen society's overall capacity for psychological defense."

The government authority, which didn't name any countries it suspects of participating in disinformation campaigns, said it "will provide support to the population, agencies, municipalities, the media, voluntary defense organizations and civil society in general, as well as working for increased coordination between these actors."

In 2018, Sweden's domestic intelligence agency said foreign powers didn't carry out any comprehensive campaign to influence the Swedish parliamentary election. However, it added that a "foreign power exerts influence on Sweden in the long term." That agency briefed lawmakers before the Sept. 9, 2018 election, about the risk, security and safety measures. The agency didn't identify any country involved by name.

Sweden's next general election is scheduled for Sept. 11.

France, which has a presidential election in April, set up an agency last year to combat foreign disinformation and fake news.