According to a recent report by the House Judiciary Committee, officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were involved in an effort to suppress and censor certain online speech prior to the 2020 presidential election.
The report, which spans over 100 pages, outlines the actions of a group known as the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) at Stanford University. The group, which was assisted by DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), worked to "censor" the speech of Americans and alert social media companies to remove certain content.
Emails and internal communications obtained by the House panel revealed how the EIP collaborated with CISA to flag and remove true information, jokes, and political opinions that were deemed "misinformation." These efforts were largely directed at Republicans and conservatives, while false information posted by Democrats and liberals went untouched.
BOMBSHELL REPORT ON THE CENSORSHIP-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
HUNDREDS of secret reports show how @DHSgov’s @CISAgov, The GEC (@StateDept), @Stanford and others worked together to censor AMERICANS before the 2020 election, including true information, jokes, and opinions.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) November 6, 2023
Notable figures such as former President Donald Trump, Senator Thom Tillis, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Representative Thomas Massie had their social media posts marked as misinformation by the EIP and CISA. Even posts from former politicians like Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich were not spared.
The report highlighted the involvement of CISA's Countering Foreign Influence Task Force in this effort. The federal government's role, described as "switchboarding," was to refer requests for the removal of content to social media platforms. This process was used to remove content flagged by state and local election officials, under the guise of countering foreign influence.
The report also noted the role of students at Stanford in this operation. Several students were simultaneously employed by both CISA and EIP, using their government email accounts to communicate with CISA officials and other "external stakeholders." This raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest and coordination between the government and a university group in censoring speech.
Through my Free Speech Protection Act, co-authored with @Jim_Jordan, the government will be stripped of its ability to shroud its actions in secrecy and infringe upon the First Amendment rights of the American people. https://t.co/awZhaP7Doa
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) November 7, 2023
Upon release of the report, CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales stated that the agency "does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship." He claimed that CISA mitigates the risk of disinformation by promoting election literacy and sharing information with the public.
However, the report casts doubt on these claims, revealing numerous instances where CISA was involved in requesting the removal of content and pressuring social media companies to censor certain speech.
In conclusion, the House Judiciary Committee's report sheds light on the efforts made by the federal government, with the assistance of a university group, to censor the speech of Americans in the lead up to the 2020 election. These actions raise concerns about freedom of speech and the role of government in suppressing certain viewpoints.