October 3, 2022

DHS wants to continue its “disinformation” work, flag “falsehoods” to social media platforms

“The Department must be able to address the disinformation risk streams that can undermine the safety of our homeland. “

The particular Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) controversial “ Disinformation Governance Board” has been recently shut down   after First Amendment concerns but the DHS seemingly nevertheless intends to continue its “ disinformation” work.

A recent report in the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s “ Disinformation Best Practices plus Safeguards Subcommittee” states that while “ there is no need for a separate Disinformation Governance Board.. the Department must be able to deal with the disinformation threat streams that can undermine the security of our homeland. ”

The report was produced after DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked the subcommittee to make recommendations for how the DHS can “ most efficiently and appropriately address disinformation that poses a danger to the homeland while protecting civil rights and offering greater transparency across this particular work. ”

In the document, the subcommittee provides a wide definition of disinformation, outlines the way the DHS detects and minimizes information that falls underneath the scope of this definition, and offers the subcommittee’s recommendations.

The far-reaching associated with disinformation includes both deliberate and unintentional spreading associated with “ falsehoods. ” The particular subcommittee also deems the particular “ intentional spreading associated with genuine information with the intent to cause harm” to be a type of disinformation and uses “ moving private and personal details into the public sphere” for instance of this type of disinformation.

The report describes how several US federal government agencies that fall under the DHS’s purview, including the Workplace of Intelligence and Analysis (I& A), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), surveil on the internet messages, forums, and social media to identify disinformation, “ rumors, ” and “ attitudes related to migration. ”

It also notes the fact that Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which also falls under the purview from the DHS, flags “ disinformation campaigns utilizing social media” to social media companies “ for whatever action those companies see fit to take. ”

Within the recommendations section of the statement, the subcommittee insists which the DHS’s work on disinformation is usually “ critical” and that the DHS “ needs the opportunity to identify, analyze, and, where necessary, address certain incorrect information. ”

The subcommittee adds the DHS should be able to flag disinformation to social media platforms:

“ The particular Department can and should also bring such disinformation towards the attention of other authorities agencies for appropriate activity and to platforms hosting the falsehoods. It is for the platforms, alone, to determine whether any action is appropriate under their own policies. ”

While the report suggests that the DHS should maintain its broad powers to surveil disinformation and flag this to social media platforms, the subcommittee insists that these routines will be “ consistent with legislation and the relevant civil rights and privacy protections. ”

We all obtained a copy of this Disinformation Best Practices and Safe guards Subcommittee report for you  here .

We all obtained a copy of the appendix to this report (which contains examples of DHS companies activities that address disinformation) for you  here .

This report and its suggestions were published on the same day that the DHS officially shut down its Disinformation Governance Table. This board was presented in April but days after it was introduced,   20 states endangered legal action   and branded it a good “ unacceptable and utterly alarming encroachment on each citizen’s right to express their opinions, engage in political argument, and disagree with the government. ”

As the DHS’s activities related to the particular Disinformation Governance Board created mass controversy, the DHS was  surveilling “ misinformation”   and  accused of surveilling money transfers   before the board was also introduced. It also  has contracted with a social networking surveillance company that provides security software .

The recommendation that the DHS should flag alleged disinformation to social media was published one day before the Federal Agency of Investigation’s (FBI’s) use of this tactic in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential political election came under fresh scrutiny.

The scrutiny started after Facebook CEO Tag Zuckerberg  appeared around the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast   and stated the FBI had warned Facebook about a “ dump” of “ Russian disinfo” just before the New York Article published a story alleging that will Joe Biden and his kid Hunter Biden had involved in an alleged corruption scandal. This story was released a few weeks before the 2020 US presidential election and has been censored by  Facebook   and  other Big Tech systems . At the time, many political figures and journalists blasted Huge Tech for censoring a tale that was unfavorable to then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. A recent poll found that  79% of Americans   who adopted the story believe that “ truthful” coverage would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election.

Government agencies, such as the DHS and the FBI, defend this practice of flagging alleged disinformation to social networking companies by insisting maybe not directing the companies in order to censor and that it’s to the platforms to decide whether they want to remove the information that’s flagged to them.

However , internal chats have exposed that when government agencies or officials flag information or even accounts to platforms, they actually sometimes apply pressure. For instance ,   recently launched internal Slack messages show Twitter employees discussing the White House branding journalist Alex Berenson “ the epicenter of disinfo” and questioning “ the reason why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off from the platform” four months before he had been banned.

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