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U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Partnered With Big Tech, Disinfo Partners to Illegally Censor Americans, House Report Says

Congressional officials say 'CISA has transformed into a domestic intelligence and speech-police agency'

U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Partnered With Big Tech, Disinfo Partners to Illegally Censor Americans, House Report Says

A new report reveals details about how the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered with third-party organizations to facilitate the censorship of Americans in direct violation of the Constitution.

CISA, an upstart agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was established in 2018 with a mission to protect U.S. critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.

Critical infrastructure includes “information technology; telecommunications; chemical; transportation systems, including mass transit, aviation, maritime, ground/surface, and rail and pipeline systems; emergency services; and postal and shipping,” as defined in the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7.

However, according to a recent House Judiciary Committee’s report, shortly after the 2016 election President Barack Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson added “election infrastructure” as a “critical infrastructure subsector.”

What soon followed was CISA beginning to surveil and censor American citizens “online, directly, and by proxy,” expanding it’s mission to combat foreign disinformation under the pretext of protecting election infrastructure, the report states.

Per the Judiciary Committee report, what constitutes “misinformation” or “disinformation” is “determined by government actors, whose evaluations of truth and falsity are necessarily subjective, and inherently political.” The report added that “CISA’s  involvement in policing alleged mis- and disinformation, as well as malinformation — truthful information without 'sufficient' context — is a direct and serious threat to First Amendment principles.”

The federal government is prohibited from censoring the political speech of Americans. The government is also barred from using third-parties to bypass the First Amendment to engage in censorship by proxy. Yet, congressional investigators determined that CISA colluded with Big Tech companies, as well as government-funded third parties, to censor by proxy and to hide those activities from public view, including by scrubbing its website.

As stated in the report, “CISA has transformed into a domestic intelligence and speech-police agency, far exceeding its statutory authority.”

Revelations contained in the Judiciary Committee report seem to validate some of the information put forward by independent journalist Matt Taibbi, who exposed the government’s role in leaning on private social media companies to censor, ban, and otherwise limit the reach of accounts that posted information disfavored by the government.

Individuals who worked at Big Tech companies, including Twitter’s former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, were aware that allowing the government to use their companies to censor Americans violated the Constitution, according to the report.

Gadde, Dr. Kate Starbird, Associate Professor and Co-Founder of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, and Suzanne Spaulding, a former assistant general counsel and legal adviser for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), were on a CISA subcommittee called the “MDM Subcommittee.”

“On numerous occasions, CISA officials and MDM Subcommittee members acknowledged, both implicitly and explicitly, that CISA was not authorized to conduct the kind of surveillance and censorship it was conducting,” the report says. “Instead of calling for an end to CISA’s unconstitutional activity, however, those involved routinely attempted to conceive methods by which CISA could surreptitiously outsource its surveillance and censorship to non-governmental third parties.”

Congressional officials say CISA’s actions don’t just violate the First Amendment, but also violate the principle of separation of powers. While not detailing what specific legal remedies they might pursue, the Judiciary Committee report says they, along with their Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, will continue to investigate.

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