Czech Republic: Yet another hoax hits senior citizens' inboxes, police need complaints to take action
Purveyors of disinformation in the Czech Republic disseminate alarming and deceptive "news" - basically hoaxes - not just through obscure online servers, but also through mass e-mails. One such e-mail is currently filling up the inboxes mainly of senior citizens.
The message claims that a Saudi Arabian cleric has issued a statement saying that Muslims are allowed to eat their wives if they are hungry. Originally, however, those allegations were made by a Moroccan blogger - as satire.
News server Aktuáně.cz reports that the problem of such alarming and deceptive "news" items is now being dealt with, according to Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), by the Czech Interior Ministry and its Centre against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats. "Older people are more disciplined and actually vote. Given that they are not as skilled when it comes to the Internet and do not necessarily verify what comes to them by e-mail, sending them such messages can have an effect. Targeting older people is rational from a propaganda perspective, as younger people are less of a sure thing," sociologist Jan Hartl, the founder of the STEM polling agency, told news server Aktuálně.cz.
"Senior citizens frequently receive such e-mails. The aim of this massive pressure is to create a negativee atmosphere and unrest in society and to undermine faith in democratic institutions," Czech MP Helena Langšádlová (TOP09) warned the PM in April.
"The Interior Ministry and the Centre against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats are aware of the existence of these massively distributed e-mails, which have the nature of disinformation and can be considered a false alarm, and they are tackling the problem," Sobotka told Aktuáně.cz. However, the Interior Ministry is only able to investigate hoaxes sent by e-mail if their recipients report them to police.
The dissemination of such messages can be qualified under Czech law as different crimes - defamation of a nation or race, libel, making false allegations, or raising a false alarm - depending on the content of the message. According to analyst Josef Šlerk it is impossible to ascertain exactly how many hoaxes are being disseminated by e-mail.
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