A coalition of different organizations has called on President Joe Biden to create a disinformation task force, which will come up with solutions to censor online “misinformation” – paradoxically, “without limiting free expression.”
Like many who have used the pandemic to increase and justify censorship, the coalition referenced what it says is the spread of falsehoods surrounding COVID-19 and its vaccines and the 2020 presidential election. “We are writing as a coalition of human rights, free speech, democracy, and technology organizations to urge the creation of a federal interagency Disinformation Defense and Free Expression Task Force with domestic policy leadership,” the letter to Biden by the coalition reads. “The prevalence of deceptions, propaganda, and conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election, COVID-19, and the recent Capitol insurrection illustrates the clear and present threat that disinformation poses to our democracy and national security,” the letter, which was provided to Axios, adds. In the letter, the group acknowledges that cracking down on disinformation could unintentionally lead to the suppression of freedom of expression.
“However, we are equally mindful that solutions adopted in moments of crisis can themselves pose significant dangers to our fundamental freedoms,” they wrote. The letter was signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SimplySecure, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Pen America, Free Press, Access Now, Common Cause, the Center for American Progress, and Voto Latino.
“We know that fighting disinformation also means remaining vigilant against censorship and other threats to free expression,” said Matt Bailey, director of Pen America’s Digital Freedom Program. “We also know that disinformation itself is a profound threat to free speech, because it prevents the robust exchange of ideas and sows distrust and polarization.”
By Dan Frieth