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Pro-Indian 'fake' websites spreading disinformation, claims Europe NGO

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Research conducted by a Belgium-based non-governmental organisation has alleged that a network of pro-Indian 'fake' websites have been spreading disinformation around the world.

The EU Disinfo Lab report claims to have found over 265 fake local sites in more than 65 countries which are managed by one "Indian influence network".

The researchers said they traced the websites and IP addresses to an Indian company called Srivastava Group.

"More than the fake media outlets alone, it is their combination with the fake NGOs (non-governmental organisation) that's really worrying because it provides a mirage of online and grassroots support to a cause. That's exactly where the disinformation lies," Alexandre Alaphilippe, executive director of EU Disinfo Lab, told the BBC.

The network of such websites was also found to involve groups responsible for anti-Pakistan lobbying events in Europe, according to the Brussels-based group which says its focus is on researching and tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union (EU), its member states, core institutions and core values.

It claims to have found that some of the disinformation campaign were targeted at influencing European institutions and the United Nations (UN).

According to the report titled 'Influencing policymakers with fake media outlets: An investigation into a pro-Indian influence network', many of the so-called fake or "zombie" websites use names of defunct newspapers or media outlets to provide a veneer of credibility.

"We also found that the IP address of the Srivastava Group is also home to the obscure online media 'New Delhi Times' and the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), which are all based at the same address in New Delhi, India," notes the report.

The IINS was earlier in the for sponsoring a controversial visit to Kashmir in October for right wing members of the European Parliament.

"Tipped off by itself and the presence of Canadian and American (now offline) NGOs and think-tanks on the same servers as EP Today and Srivastava Group, we discovered an additional network of over 265 resurrected media in more than 65 countries, following a similar modus operandi," it adds.

A BBC Hindi reporter visited the Delhi address thrown up by the group's investigations and was told by a security guard there was no office in the building.

The Srivastava Group is yet to respond to the allegations in the report, released this month based on what EU Disinfo Lab claims are Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) techniques of investigation.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, December 17 2019. 20:20 IST