The United State’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on April 27, 2022 it was forming a Disinformation Governance Board (DGB). After three weeks of terrible response in the press, that effort was “paused”. However, the DHS clearly didn’t forget about their goal since a new effort is underway to recreate the DGB in various piecemeal ways and sneak it past the public. The stated goal of the DGB was to try to counter the spread of false information. On June 16, the Biden administration released information on a White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse. It is yet another attempt to partner with teh DHS and dozens of other departments in Washington to control speech. The task force’s mandate to conduct mass surveillance and control of online speech is buried in its mission list, which includes plausible goals such as “improving coordination among executive departments” and “increasing access to survivor-centered services.”
In addition, another major stated goal is to counter disinformation coming from foreign agents like Russia. According to DHS, Russia has continually engaged in misinformation campaigns aimed at U.S. citizens. In fact, they claim Russian disinformation campaigns are wide in scope. First, stoking internal divisions. Second, calling into question the validity of elections. Thirdly, spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines. Finally, and most recently, spreading false narratives around the war in Ukraine.
ISEG Research Fellow raises warnings about the potential harms of an American Ministry of Truth
On July 9, 2022, Dr. Abigail Devereaux, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Economic Growth (ISEG), and Dr. Roger Koppl, professor of finance at Syracuse University, published an article on the dangers of the newly established taskforce. While the stated goals seem noble enough, the evidence so far points to a far more biased approach to ”truth” with real danger of abuse. In conclusion, they warn that the task force already looks like a partisan instrument and is frighteningly reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The administration is trying its damnedest to define online speech as a fundamentally different kind of speech to control it. Given how much of our lives are shifting into the virtual realm, that should concern anyone. We work online. We go to school online. We visit with our families online. Controlling online speech is no less totalitarian than controlling speech in real life.
The Trojan Horse that is the Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse is an attempt to realize an American Ministry of Truth in increments, and its creation should be as vehemently opposed as was the DGB.
Read the whole article at The Hill.