PN leader Bernard Grech has called for Malta’s cybercrime laws to be strengthened before the next general election in light of a spate of spoof articles targeting government critics and the prosecution in the Yorgen Fenech murder case.
“I recently invited [Prime Minister] Robert Abela to discuss ways to strengthen laws and police resources so as address the worrying increase of tactics of spreading fake news to confuse voters as we head into an election,” Grech said.
He also confirmed that the PN has filed a report to the cybercrime police after a spoof NET article emerged alleging that MP Jason Azzopardi uses cocaine.
Like all other spoof articles that have emerged so far, the article gives readers the impression that it’s on NET’s actual website, with links leading to legitimate links. However, the domain name is slightly altered spoof article itself cannot be found when searching through NET’s website.
The spoof appears to tamper legitimate articles, in this case an article about the arrest of a suspected cocaine trafficker, while leaving the same cover photos and author names.
“I reiterate the urgent need for the police to strengthen its cybercrime laws as soon as possible before the next election so that the people will truly be able to make their democratic choices in full freedom, not under the control of those who only care about power and themselves.”
Earlier today, Azzopardi wrote to Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa to inform him about the identity of the person behind these spoofs.
“My message to the brains behind this dirt: neither you, nor your coked-up accomplice, nor the Bulgarian IT expert you are paying €1,500 an hour to conjure up this dirt will scare or stop me,” he said.
One of the spoof articles, which targeted Manuel Delia, used the spate of spoofing to defend Fenech, who was recently charged with trying to purchase weapons through the dark net in November 2018.
The spoof article claimed that the weapon orders were “spoofed” ‘ to make it appear that Fenech ordered them.
“According to well-informed sources, spoofing is used more often in Malta, for example Repubblika has recently become a victim of spoofing. According to the police, Yorgen Fenech paid with Bitcoin, but it turns out that this wallet was spoofed to make it look like Yorgen Fenech had the payment executed. The blockchain is public and therefore easy to manipulate by external parties.”