On 1st April, the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, together with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia, organised a public discussion “Cyberattacks and Propaganda: The Battlefield of the Future”. It was an event in the series of public discussions regarding the new State Defence Concept of Latvia.

The aim of the discussion was to exchange views concerning the practice of cyberattacks and propaganda, as well as to formulate recommendations that could be included in the new State Defence Concept. The discussion featured Jānis Kārkliņš (Director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence), Uldis Ķinis (Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Latvia), Ilze Murāne (Information Systems Security Manager, Bank of Latvia), Mikus Arājs (Expert, BHC Labaratory), and Dr. Anke Schmidt-Felzmann (visiting lecturer at the University of Glasgow, UK). The event was moderated by Mārtiņš Daugulis (Research Fellow, Latvian Institute of International Affairs).

In December 2014, during the initial discussion on the State Defence Concept, it was recognised that there were several new security threats posed by the contemporary virtual environment, and developments of information and communication technologies in general, which should be reflected in the Concept. Therefore, in this debate the main emphasis was put on two particular modern security challenges–cyberattacks and propaganda.

In the discussion, J.Karklins stressed: "There is no distance between two points in cyberspace - that represents a completely different environment that we need to grasp. In twenty years we have developed total dependence on this environment, and this is the first technology to change human nature. We have become totally dependent on one technology. If the environment is disrupted, we are totally disoriented both as individuals and as a society. This is a considerable threat to our security. When we are thinking about abuse, we also need to distinguish and understand the sort of abuse we are talking about - propaganda is not new, it is thousands of years old. What is new is its scale and speed. With one click of a mouse you can potentially reach 3 billion people. We need to invest in strategic communications better - bans on anything these days simply do not work. We need to raise awareness about new information space, teach media literacy and critical thinking skills, and seriously invest in building our narratives which appeal to different parts of the population.”

A video of the discussion is available here.