It sounds like a normal institution that has taken a leading role in the European information war: The Institute for Statecraft (IfS). The institute describes itself not only as a think tank, but also as a “do tank”.
This is meant to express that not only thought, but actions are invited. The institution is proud to be “totally independent and impartial, financially dependent neither on political or governmental agencies nor on industrial interests or any source that would challenge our objectivity”. No address or telephone number of the IfS is available on its website.
The hacker organisation Cyberguerrilla recently published sensational documents uncovering an organisational structure across Europe, which is actively influencing politics and media in EU member countries, known as the Integrity Initiative.
The umbrella organisation of this Europe-wide structure is the Institute for Statecraft. The goal of the Integrity Initiative is to “unite people who understand the threat in providing a coordinated Western response to Russian disinformation and other elements of hybrid warfare”.
The institute is not as independent as it claims to be, however. The British government had to admit its links to the organisation after a request from a shadow minister Emily Thornberry.
From January to the beginning of December 2018 alone, the government transferred “nearly two million pounds” to the institute to cover the costs of “foreign activities”.
In addition, the Institute established the Atlantic Committee of the UK, a “discrete corporation” designed to implement all joint programs and projects with NATO Headquarters and the Atlantic Council.
One such program is the “Cyber Responsibility Program for Children”, or “Cyber Guardian” for short. To protect children and young people from “disinformation from Russia, from Daesh and other harmful sources”, Cyber Guardian must “educate” children to the extent that they understand “true information and propaganda as well as disinformation”.
The program is designed for schoolchildren between the ages of eight and 16, “but with the potential to educate even younger children as the program evolves”.
Cyber Guardian will provide “leading Estonian experts” to the Institute for Statecraft, as Estonia has taken a leading role in the EU in the area of cybersecurity and the preparation of schoolchildren for Internet use, with the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) as its flagship.
HITSA, in turn, works closely with the Latvian NATO Stratcom Center of Excellence, the strategic communications arm of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Thus, the Institute for Statecraft receives British government funds, “to counteract disinformation abroad”, above all allegedly from Russia.