In the UK, a secretive government body has been fighting freedom of speech during Covid

A secret UK government team is working with social media companies to try to reduce discussions of lockdown during the pandemic. Critics of Covid restrictions have been targeted by the Anti-Disinformation Unit (CDU) and treated as insider ‘threats’, according to reports from GBNews.

Social media companies have used the technology to prevent posts from being widely promoted, published or shared after they have been flagged by the CDU or its counterpart in the Cabinet Office. So posts critical of isolation restrictions or questioning mass vaccination of children have been removed

Freedom of Information (FoI) filings and data protection requests revealed that key critics of the government’s Covid plans are being secretly monitored.

Social media was scoured by an artificial intelligence (AI) company on behalf of the government and learned of the debates against vaccine passports. Even the BBC has been found involved in secret government political meetings to discuss so-called disinformation.

MPs and free speech campaigners denounced the information as “really frightening” and a “tool of censorship on British citizens” along the lines of the Chinese Communist Party. Conservative MP Miriam Keats told The Telegraph: “Any attempt by governments to shut down the legal debate is deeply troubling, but to find that DCMS actively sought to censor the opinions of those who were speaking out on children’s welfare is truly frightening.” .

“It is becoming increasingly clear that many of the foundations of our democracy – such as freedom of speech and parliamentary oversight – have been completely ignored during the pandemic.”

The CDU, which is still operational, has been merged into the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). A step you should worry about the most because nothing in popular culture, including sports, is at this point outside the direct or indirect control of the government.

The system of Trusted Flaggers at social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, ensures that requests to remove content are quickly responded to. This figure of “freelance spy in the service of government” was also required by the European Union and was placed in the DSA, the regulation on online communications that will come into force from next August.

The CDU was created in 2019 and initially focused on European elections before focusing on the pandemic. Why does this body deal with the electoral process, which should be the basis of democracy?

During the pandemic, the unit worked closely with the now-defunct RRU “Rapid Response Unit” of the Cabinet Office, i.e. the government, whose responsibilities included confronting alleged “experts” spreading dangerous disinformation.

Silky Carlow, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The concept of ‘disinformation’ dictated by a central authority is vulnerable to abuse and should be viewed more critically to avoid reversing the Chinese censorship style.

While everyone expects government and tech giants to take action against hostile foreign disinformation campaigns, we must be very careful about delegating these powers to a central authority.

All this happens when freedom of opinion is considered an enemy by the government. A situation that is incompatible with true democracy and shows the truly deep crisis of modern politics.

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Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

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