Wednesday 17th of April 2024

criminalising your thoughts.....

the birth of the censorship financial industrial complex in reaction to Brexit and the election of Trump in 2016

 

By Claudio Resta

 

 

Documents received by investigative journalists Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag and Matt Taibbi from an anonymous but “highly credible” whistleblower reveal new details about how the US censorship industrial complex – a network of more than 100 government agencies, private companies, universities and non-profit organizations – regulates and criminalizes “wrong thinking”.

They describe the activities of an “anti-disinformation” group called the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, or CTIL, which officially began as a volunteer project of data scientists and defense and intelligence veterans, but whose tactics over time appear to have been absorbed into multiple official projects, including those of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The CTI League documents provide missing answers to key questions not addressed in the Twitter Files and Facebook Files. Together, they offer a complete picture of the rise of the “anti-disinformation” industry, or what we have called the Censorship Industrial Complex.”

The documents describe how modern digital censorship programs were created and the various roles of the military, US intelligence agencies, civil society organizations and commercial media.

They also describe the methods and techniques used, such as the creation and use of “sock puppet” accounts to spy on and direct online discussions and propagate desired narratives, the discrediting of dissidents, and the deliberate weaponization of the financial industry against them .

According to the whistleblower, the CTIL was also involved in the creation of a counter-disinformation project to “avoid a repeat of 2016”, a reference to Brexit and Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the elections, two situations in which the democratic processes have actually won.

As Jimmy Dore noted, it wasn’t about preventing the circulation of false information.

 

It was about ensuring that no political outsider could ever enter the Oval Office again.

The instruction to prevent a repeat of 2016 was a direct call to undermine, if not eliminate, the process of free and fair elections.

Importantly, the documents admit that censorship efforts against Americans must be carried out by private sector partners, because the government does not have “legal authority” to do so.

The new series of documents and videos reveals that 2019 was a pivotal year for the censorship industrial complex. According to Public, it was then that “US and British military and intelligence contractors, led by a former British defense researcher, Sara-Jayne ‘SJ’ Terp, developed the blanket censorship framework.”

These contractors became co-leaders of CTIL, whose original founders were a former Israeli intelligence official, Ohad Zaidenberg, the person responsible of Microsoft security Nate Warfield, Chris Mills, another Microsoft security official, and Marc Rogers, the head of security operations at the hacker convention DEF CON.

According to media reports , these highly trained and in-demand professionals have made the altruistic decision to offer their services to help billion-dollar hospitals with their cybersecurity, for free and with no strings attached. It wasn’t a believable cover story then, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any better.

Within a month of CTIL’s founding in March 2020, this supposedly entirely volunteer group had grown to 1,400 “invitation-only” members in 76 countries and entered into an official partnership with Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security. As reported by Public:

 

Parallel censorship agencies

In spring 2020, CISA also created the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) – a consortium composed of the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic’s Digital Forensic Research Lab Council and from Graphika (a social media analytics company) – and outsourced what would otherwise have been illegal and unconstitutional censorship.

During the 2020 election cycle, EIP and CISA worked with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) and the DHS-supported Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) to influence and monitor political discussions online. EIP coordinated the removal of unwanted content using a real-time chat application shared by DHS, EIP, and social media companies.

At the same time, CTIL monitored and reported anti-blockade views on social media. A “law enforcement” channel was created specifically to spy on and monitor social media users posting anti-lockdown hashtags. CTIL even kept a printout detailing their Twitter biographies.

According to Public, the CTIL has also “engaged in offensive operations to influence public opinion, discussing ways to promote ‘counter-messaging,’ co-opting hashtags, diluting unfavorable messaging, creating sock puppet accounts, and infiltrating private groups by invitation.” In February 2021, the EIP was renamed the Virality Project, at which point its censorship focus shifted from elections to COVID-related issues.

Government infiltration and takeover

Although CTIL member Bonnie Smalley responded to a Public question by saying that CTIL has “nothing to do with the government,” the evidence shows otherwise. At least a dozen government employees working with DHS, the FBI, and CISA were also active members of CTIL.

 

According to the whistleblower, CTIL’s goal “was to become part of the federal government.” Terp’s plan called for the creation of “MisinfoSec communities” that would include the federal sector, and documents show that this goal was achieved. In April 2020, Chris Krebs, then director of CISA, also publicly announced the agency’s partnership with CTIL.

The audience continues:“The documents also show that Terp and his colleagues, through a group called the MisinfoSec Working Group, which included [Renee] DiResta, head of research at the Stanford Internet Observatory, created a censorship, influence and counter-disinformation strategy called

Adversarial Misinformation and Influence Tactics and Techniques (AMITT).

They wrote AMITT by adapting a cybersecurity framework developed by MITER… Terp then used AMITT to develop the DISARM framework, which the World Health Organization then used to “counter anti-vaccination campaigns across Europe.”

A key component of Terp’s work through CTIL, MisinfoSec and AMITT has been to bring the concept of “cognitive security” to the fields of cybersecurity and information security…

The ambitions of the 2020 pioneers of the censorship industrial complex went far beyond simply requiring Twitter to place a warning label on tweets or blacklist individuals.

The AMITT framework calls for discrediting people as a necessary prerequisite for requiring censorship of them. Invite influencers to train to spread messages. And he invites us to try to convince banks to cut financial services to individuals who organize demonstrations or events.”

 

The arming of the financial sector was born with the CTIL

Now we know where this financial sector weapon comes from. It originated with the CTIL, which hspecifically sought to induce banks to “cut financial services to individuals who organize rallies or events”.

Clearly, as my case and that of many others demonstrates, even banks and online payment processors have been tricked into cutting off services to people who simply expressed opposing views. It’s not just demonstration organizers who are being targeted.

Under the cover of altruism

Although CTIL officials have repeatedly stressed that the organization was founded on purely altruistic principles, the clear goal of its leaders was to “build support for censorship among national security and cybersecurity institutions,” writes Public, and they built that support by promoting Terp’s idea of “cognitive safety.”

The choice of the term “cognitive safety” takes on a rather sinister flavor in light of Dr. Michael Nehls’ findings that over the past four years there has been what appears to be an intentional effort to destroy autobiographical memory function in the public’s brain , thus facilitating mass indoctrination and inhibiting personal will and critical thinking.vast plan for global censorship by US and British military contractors

He presents his thesis in the book “The Indoctrinated Brain: How to Successfully Fend Off the Global Attack on Your Mental Freedom”, published in mid-December 2023.

 

The whistleblower material clearly reveals that sophisticated military tactics have been turned against the American public, powerful psychological tools – the same tools that, according to Nehls, can literally alter the biological functions of the brain.

Public cites a MisinfoSec report in which “the authors called for placing censorship efforts within ‘cybersecurity,’ while acknowledging that ‘disinformation security’ is entirely different from cybersecurity. They wrote that the third pillar of the “information environment”, after physical and cyber security, should be the “cognitive dimension”.

Indeed, your mind – your cognition, your very ability to think independently – is the battlefield of today’s war, as Nehls proposes in his book. The scary part is that the tools used have the power to reprogram who we are.

We are indeed “hackable animals,” as proposed by Yuval Noah Harari, and the censorship industrial complex has already hacked the brain structure of billions of people over the past four years. Gutentag also talks about it in an article dated December 3, 2023:”What was once considered a “conspiracy theory”, according to which military and intelligence forces manipulated public opinion through inorganic interventions, has now been confirmed .

Our study of the censorship industrial complex has exposed a far-reaching plan to subvert the democratic process and engage in activities that have a basis in military techniques and that amount to attempts at thought or mind control.”

”It’s legal if we can get away with it”

The CTIL files also demonstrate that there was a clear intent to circumvent the First Amendment by outsourcing censorship to the private, non-governmental sector.

 

According to the informant:“The ethos was if we get away with it, it’s legal, and there were no First Amendment problems because we have a ‘public-private partnership’ – that’s the word they used to mask these problems. Private individuals can do things that public officials cannot do, and public officials can provide leadership and coordination.”

Good news, bad news

”The good news is that more and more information is coming out about the U.S. government’s illegal outsourcing of censorship, and with it, legal challenges that pose roadblocks to this circumvention of the Constitution.

The three activists also achieved other victories. In August 2022, DHS was forced to shut down the Disinformation Governance Board due to public backlash. CISA also deleted information about its national censorship work from its website and dismantled its Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation (MDM) subcommittee.

The federal government’s Select Subcommittee on Armaments is also continuing its search for the truth and will (hopefully) use all the power at its disposal to put an end to the abuses. Its latest report, “The Weaponization of ‘Disinformation’ Pseudo-Experts and Bureaucrats: How the Federal Government Partnered with Universities to Censor Americans’ Political Speech” was released on November 6, 2023.

Unfortunately, there is a global effort underway not only to normalize, but also to legalize this type of censorship by third parties.

In short, they are trying to restructure the censorship industry “away from a top-down government-led model” to a “competitive brokerage model” in which “content management” (read censorship) is simply outsourced to third-party organizations.

 

In this way, a “legal” market for disinformation compliance is created, while the government can claim to have nothing to do with controlling the information. In essence, we are witnessing the emergence of organized corporate censorship.

There is no clear solution to this threat other than to continue to oppose all efforts to legalize, standardize and normalize censorship. Vocally oppose, refuse to use intermediaries like NewsGuard, and boycott any company or organization that uses intermediaries or engages in censorship of any kind.”

https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/01/going-far-beyond-j-edgar-hoover-blackmail/embed/#?secret=NPIf5Fpwr9#?secret=CipmHPPY8S  FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOWWWWWWWWWW....................

american spies....

Tucker Carlson said on Tuesday that US spies had monitored him while he was in Russia earlier this month, and leaked to a ‘friendly’ outlet that he had met with Edward Snowden. This is despite the American journalist’s claim that he had tried to keep his meeting with the NSA whistleblower a secret.

Carlson went to Russia to interview President Vladimir Putin. During his eight days in Moscow, he also met with Snowden – and US spies found out about it, he told podcaser Lex Fridman in the course of a three-hour conversation.

“I was being intensely surveilled by the US government,” Carlson told Fridman, noting that US spies had thwarted his plans to interview Putin in 2021 and that he received confirmation that he was being intensely monitored ahead of his Moscow trip. “Then, I’m over there, and of course I want to see Snowden, whom I admire.”

Snowden allegedly accepted Carlson’s invitation to have dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel, but declined the interview as well as a photo request, saying that it would be better to tell no one.

“I didn’t tell anybody,” Carlson told Fridman, however the meeting was leaked. “Semafor runs this piece – reporting information they got from the US intel agencies, leaking against me, using my money, in my name, in a supposedly free country – they run this piece saying I met with Snowden, like it was a crime or something.”

“If you have a media establishment that acts as employees of the national security state, you don’t have a free country. And that’s where we are,” Carlson added.

Carlson revealed that he did not fear getting arrested in Russia at any point, but was warned by his lawyers that the US might arrest him depending on the content of the Putin interview.

“I felt not one twinge of concern for the 8 days that I was there,” he told Fridman about being in Moscow.

Before he left for Russia, his team of attorneys counseled him to “not do this… A lot will depend on the questions you ask of Putin. If you’re seen as too nice to him you could be arrested when you come back,”Carlson quoted the lead lawyer as saying, to which he said he replied, “You’re describing a fascist country, OK?”

In 2013, Snowden revealed that the NSA was systematically engaged in mass illegal spying on American citizens. Fearing for his safety, he fled to Hong Kong with the intent to reach Ecuador, which did not have an extradition treaty with the US, but was stopped during a layover in Moscow after Washington canceled his passport. Russia ended up granting him asylum and reportedly, eventual citizenship.

One of the founders of Semafor, the outlet to which Carlson claims US spies leaked his dinner with Snowden, is Ben Smith, a former editor-in-chief of the now defunct BuzzFeed newsroom. In 2017, Smith notoriously published the ‘Steele Dossier,’ a sham document leaked by US spies to discredit incoming President Donald Trump.

In 2013, Snowden revealed that the NSA was systematically engaged in mass illegal spying on American citizens. Fearing for his safety, he fled to Hong Kong with the intent to reach Ecuador, which did not have an extradition treaty with the US, but was stopped during a layover in Moscow after Washington canceled his passport. Russia ended up granting him asylum and reportedly, eventual citizenship.

One of the founders of Semafor, the outlet to which Carlson claims US spies leaked his dinner with Snowden, is Ben Smith, a former editor-in-chief of the now defunct BuzzFeed newsroom. In 2017, Smith notoriously published the ‘Steele Dossier,’ a sham document leaked by US spies to discredit incoming President Donald Trump.

https://www.rt.com/news/593283-tucker-carlson-snowden-spying/

 

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choosing genocides....

 

HAS RUTH ANDERSON CENSORED INDEX ON CENSORSHIP?

The CEO of a leading free expression group has a history of working for the Israel lobby. Now, Index on Censorship has little to say about Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

 

BY HAMZA ALI SHAH

 

Last month, the lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) conducted a “solidarity mission” to Israel.

The day after announcing the visit, South Africa presented its case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accusing Israel of a genocide against the people of Gaza.

Over the next 24 hours, 112 Palestinians were murdered in Gaza, taking the death toll to over 23,400.

The LFI delegation was pictured with Israeli president Isaac Herzog, whose incendiary language was singled out by the ICJ as evidence of incitement to genocide.

But also striking was the presence in the delegation of former Labour MP and now member of the House of Lords, Baroness Ruth Anderson. She has since 2020 been the CEO of Index on Censorship, a body in Britain that campaigns for free expression worldwide.

That a group priding itself on free speech has a chief visiting Israel as it commits genocide should arouse bewilderment.

This is especially since Israel is committing a vicious attack on the truth in Gaza: At least 83 journalists have been murdered as the enclave is turned into a graveyard for journalists.

Index’s articles

Israel’s campaign in Gaza has been raging for over four months and the territory has become the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist. 

Index has published a handful of articles on Gaza. A Declassified review of its outputs indicates a downplaying of the extent of the crisis at the hands of Israel.  

One recent article covered Palestinian journalist Wael al-Dahdouh and the wider plight of journalists in Gaza. It included the harrowing statistic of the number of slain journalists. 

However, the article added the common Israeli army rebuttal that it does not deliberately target journalists. It also included the unfounded claim that many journalists murdered are militant fighters, and failed to mention that killing journalists constitutes a war crime.

Another article from November 2023, written by Index’s editor, focuses on free expression in the “Israel-Hamas conflict” and zeroed in on the atrocities. 

Victims of the Hamas attacks of 7 October, it read, were “murdered” in what the author unambiguously calls a “massacre”. By contrast, Israel’s response caused the “death” of Palestinians.

Declassified could find no mention on Index’s website of the word “genocide” referring to Gaza or coverage of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide.

This is in contrast to its reporting on China. In 2021, for example, Index published an article following the Uyghur Tribunal in London that ruled the Chinese government is guilty of genocide.

Contrast to enemy states

Index has consistently thrown light on prisoners held in grim conditions in countries like BelarusIran and Saudi Arabia. But Declassified could find no recent mention of the oppression and mistreatment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. 

This has become a major issue in the current war. An additional 6,000Palestinians from the West Bank have been detained by Israeli forces since 7 October. 

Palestinian prisoners and detainees arrested in Gaza have been subjected to systematic torture, abuse and humiliation from food and sleep depravation, to electric shocks and rape threats. Many are known to have died from enduring these conditions.

Index has posted more tweets mentioning Russia since 7 October than mentioning Israel or Gaza.

The group runs five campaigns on areas such as China, Belarus and the UK Royals but has not begun a campaign on Israel/Gaza. 

Index has shown it can be categorical in its coverage and pay attention to detail. During the height of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, in the space of just one week between March and April 2022, three separate articles were published spelling out the predicament of journalists. 

One was a first-hand recounting of a Ukrainian journalist’s treatment at the hands of Russian occupiers while another was an explicit call to end the beatings and abductions of journalists in Ukrainian territories attacked by Russia.

The third was a fierce denunciation of “mobsters in the Kremlin” and their brutal actions towards “brave truth-tellers”. These unambiguous calls stand in contrast to much more nuanced positioning concerning Israel’s brutality in Gaza.

Culture of censorship

Index has paid some attention to the culture of censorship in the post 7 October climate across Europe. But notably missing has been reference to the crackdown culture in the UK, where demonstrations calling for a ceasefire have routinely been branded as violent and antisemitic

An article published in November by Index covered the suppression of free speech amid an “authoritarian turn” in Germany and the attempt to stamp out pro-Palestine activism. 

It noted Germany’s condemnation of the movement to impose sanctions on Israel and questioned attempts to use accusations of antisemitism to delegitimise boycotts and nonviolent methods of economically isolating Israel. 

In Britain, however, the government is operating on the same political wavelength. Earlier this year, deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden pledged to deliver the government’s anti-sanctions bill – which is directed at supporters of sanctions on Israel – at an event at the Jewish Leadership Council. Ruth Anderson was in attendance as a speaker.

In 2022, days after Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by an Israeli sniper, Anderson wrote an article on Index’s site about the matter. Neither Israel nor the Israeli army were mentioned.

Advocacy

Index’s website describes the CEO as a passionate campaigner and makes reference to her anti-racist history. Anderson’s history indeed encompasses advocacy; overwhelmingly for organisations sympathetic to Israel.

While MP for Stoke on Trent between 2015 and 2019, Anderson was a member of Labour Friends of Israel and was elected as parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) in April 2019. 

JLM’s senior staff have had links to the Israeli embassy. The group recently demanded the suspension of Labour MP Kate Osamor for suggesting Israel’s brutality in Gaza amounts to a genocide. 

The post, an attempt to suppress criticism of Israel and perhaps flying in the face of the purpose of Index on Censorship, was retweeted by Anderson.

Before entering Westminster, Anderson was from 2005-07 the director of public affairs and campaigns at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). The group says it aims “to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK”.

BICOM

Formed in 2001, BICOM received significant logistical assistance from the highest level of Israel’s interior ministry in its primary years, according to sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris.

Author Hil Aked, in a new book on the Israel Lobby, notes that in 2006, BICOM had achieved unprecedented access to the BBC to brief the corporation’s staff for flagship programmes like Hardtalk and Newsnight.

A leaked email in 2011 revealed how major broadcasters like Sky News opted for a particular “narrative” on Israel after being approached by BICOM.

BICOM works behind the scenes to cultivate elite opinion on Israel. Its former head of the Israel office, Jonathan Cummings, wrote at length about the importance of using delegations of British journalists to Israel to build relationships of influence with the “elite opinion makers” in the UK.

This, he added, would help Israel “create barriers to delegitimization”.

Funding

BICOM’s first funder was property billionaire Poju Zabludowicz who inherited his wealth from his father who made a fortune manufacturing arms in Israel.

Records show that Zabludowicz’s lucrative real estate company Tamares Real Estates Investments Ltd made a donation of £5,000 in June 2015 to Ruth Anderson, just as she embarked on her political journey.

Zabludowicz is also the beneficiary of investments in the Occupied Palestinian territories, including in an illegal Israeli settlement. By 2010, as a former chairman of BICOM, he had donated over £2m to the organisation in just three years.

Ruth Anderson also previously worked at the Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews from anti-semitism, in the capacity of anti-racism campaigner. 

The organisation’s co-founder, Gerald Ronson, has close links with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the group has previously been praised by MPs for its efforts in countering the sanctions movement against Israel.

Free speech

Anderson’s history of working for pro-Israel organisations which help shape the discourse on Israel in a favourable way perhaps sits oddly with her current directorship of a group promoting free expression. 

The outfit’s restrained coverage of Israel’s intensifying slaughter of Palestinians should alarm all those who advocate for free speech.

Anderson, who has announced she is stepping down as Index’s CEO later this year, was made an Honorary Captain in the Royal Naval Reserve in 2022.

A 2009 document published by WikiLeaks referred to Anderson, then using her name Smeeth, as a “strictly protect” informant for the US embassy.

Previous Declassified research has shown that between 2016-21, Index received more than £600,000 from the National Endowment Democracy (NED), a “democracy promotion” organisation established in the 1980s and funded by the US Congress. 

According to the New York Times, the NED was established “to do in the open what the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] has done surreptitiously for decades”. 

Declassified contacted Index on Censorship and inquired about these points, but representatives did not comment.

 

https://www.declassifieduk.org/has-ruth-anderson-censored-index-on-censorship/

неправильное мышление...

On Tuesday, a court in Moscow sentenced Oleg Orlov, co-founder and co-chair of the human rights organization Memorial, to two and a half years in prison. The 70-year-old had been charged with "repeatedly discrediting" the Russian military after writing an article criticizing Russia's invasion of Ukraine and labeling President Vladimir Putin's regime as "fascist."

Orlov's wife, Tatiana Kasatkina, was present at the verdict's announcement. The two had jointly built up the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization in the 1980s. Russian authorities have been clamping down on the entity's work for years, and in 2021, the Russian Supreme Court ordered the outright liquidation of International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Center, the two branches of the organization.

Despite this, the activists and campaigners involved have carried on their fight, and on Tuesday, Kasatkina confirmed that they would continue to do so. "We will live, and we hope that what is happening right now will be over soon, and that Oleg and many others are released ahead of time," she told reporters in front of the courthouse.

She also said that she believed the court had rushed the case in order to announce the verdict before the upcoming presidential elections in March.

https://www.dw.com/en/human-rights-in-russia-what-follows-oleg-orlovs-sentence/a-68409835

 

IT IS A SHAME... BUT SOMETIMES ONE SHOULD CONSIDER THE INFLUENCE OF ELEVATED IDEALS WHICH DO NOTHING TO SOLVE HARD CORE SITUATIONS. THE USA HAVE MADE NO BONES ABOUT DESTROYING RUSSIA AND HAVING GREAT IDEALS OF FREEDOM DO THE BIDDING OF NATO AGAINST RUSSIA... PUTIN IS NOT A FASCIST, JUST A REALIST WHO UNDERSTANDS AND PROTECTS THE SURVIVAL OF RUSSIA.

WHILE THE RUSSIANS EXPOSE THE GERMAN PLOT TO DESTROY THE CRIMEAN BRIGE, THERE IS NO DENIAL PRESENTED IN DW ON THIS SUBJECT. THE LEAD STORY IN DW IS THE BURIAL OF NAVALNY, WHO LIKE OLEG ORLOV WAS A "TRAITOR" TO RUSSIA. WE KNOW THAT NAVALNY WAS A CIA ASSET, A FULL-BLOWN WHITE SUPREMACIST — A NAZI.... NOT A GOOD LOOK, BUT THE WESTERN MEDIA WILL CARRY ON MILKING ITS OWN DISINFORMATION UNTIL UKRAINE CAPITULATES WHICH ACCORDING TO RELIABLE SOURCES WILL BE BY SEPTEMBER 2024, AFTER SUFFERING DEFEATS AFTER DEFEAT5 FROM MAY OF THAT YEAR...

 

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 MSNBC Legal Analyst: Free

 

MSNBC Legal Analyst: Free Speech Could Be America’s ‘Achilles Heel’

   by 

 

We have been discussing the alarming shift in higher education in favor of censorship and speech regulations. These voices have been amplified on media platforms like MSNBC which has championed efforts to censor people and groups on social media and other forums. The most recent example is the interview of University of Michigan Law Professor and MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade by Rachel Maddow. In the interview, McQuade explains how the First Amendment is the “Achilles Heel” of the United States and why the public needs to embrace greater limitations on free speech.

Professor McQuade has published a book entitled Attack from Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America. Despite my strong disagreements with her views on free speech, I am sure that it will be an important contribution to this debate. My forthcoming book, The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in the Age of Ragetakes a diametrically opposed view on the meaning and history of free speech in America.

In the interview, McQuade recognizes the importance of free speech while emphasizing its dangers.

“Actually, Rachel, I think we’re more susceptible to it than other countries, and that’s because some of our greatest strengths can also be our Achilles Heel. So, for example, our deep commitment to free speech in our First Amendment. It is a cherished right. It’s an important right in democracy, and nobody wants to get rid of it, but it makes us vulnerable to claims [that] anything we want to do related to speech is censorship.”

Well, the question is what “we want to do related to speech.” If it involves blacklisting, throttling, deplatforming, and bans, it most certainly does raise questions of censorship. Free speech is now portrayed as an existential threat to the country as opposed to the very thing that defines us as a free people.

McQuade captures the theoretical divide over free speech, though she is clearly voicing a view that is increasingly popular among law professors. She advances views of free speech that I have discussed in prior academic writings and the new book as “functionalist.” These views allow for greater trade offs between free speech and overriding social or political priorities.

For some of us, free speech is a human right. In that sense, I am undeniably a free speech dinosaur who believes that the solution for bad speech is better speech. Rather than continue down the slippery slope of censorship under the guise of disinformation, we can allow citizens to reach their own conclusions in an open and robust debate.

The alternative is often to use transparently biased judgments over what is “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation” (MDM). The government has used this rationale to coordinate censorship in what it has called the “MDM space.”

For example, within DHS, Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, extended her agency’s mandate over critical infrastructure to include “our cognitive infrastructure.” The resulting censorship efforts included combating “malinformation” – described as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” I testified earlier on this effort.

McQuade’s book will certainly add to the scholarship in this area. However, her view is painfully familiar for many of us in academia.

https://ronpaulinstitute.org/msnbc-legal-analyst-free-speech-could-be-americas-achilles-heel/

 

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