Australian intelligence agencies have been urged to publicly call out online misinformation that threatens the country’s national security.
A parliamentary committee has recommended the head of ASIO consider more opportunities to come out against misinformation and propaganda.
The committee’s annual review of the country’s six intelligence agencies – which include ASIO, the Australian Signals Directorate and ASIS – found a spike in misinformation over 2020 and 2021 which warranted action.
The committee’s chair Peter Khalil said the rise in misinformation coincided with the period of COVID-19 lockdowns.
“The committee received evidence of how misinformation and disinformation both COVID related, and then more broadly, contributed to the rapid change in the security environment during 2020 and 2021,” he told parliament on Monday.
“The committee sees an opportunity for Australia’s intelligence agencies to take an increasing role in sharing information with the Australian public – where appropriate – on matters relating to misinformation, disinformation, and harmful propaganda.”
The call to publicly address misinformation was one of four recommendations put forward in the committee’s latest annual review.
Other recommendations included improving information sharing by intelligence agencies, along with ways to address staffing issues in the sector.
“The people who work in Australia’s intelligence agencies are our greatest asset,” Mr Khalil said.
“By developing a whole of national intelligence community recruitment and retention strategy, Australia will be better positioned to deliver on its intelligence priorities.”
(Australian Associated Press)