The new “psychological defence” (psykologiskt försvar) authority was announced by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during his speech at the annual 'Folk och försvar' security conference in Sälen. It is based on a proposal by the cross-party parliamentary Defence Commission (Försvarsberedningen).
“An important part of modern total defence – not least if it is to be fit for the threats of our time – is psychological defence,” the PM said.
“The starting point is to preserve our open society's free exchange of knowledge and information. That is a precondition for our democracy and rule of law.”
According to the Swedish government the authority will “aid the population's defence capacities during peace time and its capacity to resist during war, ensure that factual public information can be quickly and effectively communicated even under disruptive conditions, as well as identify, analyze and confront influencing operations”.
A start date for the new authority has not yet been set.
In the build-up to the forthcoming autumn general election Sweden has been strengthening its defences against foreign influencing campaigns, looking to avoid the problems the Brexit referendum and 2016 US Presidential election experienced.
The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has since 2017 been analyzing the threat of foreign influencing campaigns for example, looking for weaknesses in Sweden's line of defence.
The country's preparations have been noted abroad. A 200 page long report compiled by the staff of Democrat Senator Ben Cardin for the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee last week cited The Local's interview with MSB global monitoring and analysis head Mikael Tofvesson on the matter, and in particular the agency's strategy of presenting correct information rather than actively denouncing incorrect information.
“It's like mudwrestling a pig. You'll both get dirty, but the pig will think it's quite nice. This plays into their hands, whereas for us getting dirty is just a pain. Instead, we have to try to stay clean and focus on the part of our society that has to work: democracy and freedom of expression, to make sure that giving the citizens correct information becomes our best form of resistance,” Tofvesson explained.