What is "the Ministry of Truth?" My guess is, you're referring to the government's new Disinformation Board.
Well, it's time, I guess, to clear the misinformation around disinformation (board).
Looked over a few stories on the subject, this one seems to have the best clarity.
What is DHS' Disinformation Governance Board and why is everyone so mad about it?
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-dh ... -about-it/
The new board is intended to standardize the department's efforts to respond to disinformation that could be connected with violent threats to the U.S. So, if an agency under DHS — like Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) — identifies disinformation under its purview, it's the new disinformation board that would come up with the best practices for any DHS agency handling the disinformation.
The board is tasked with standardizing and streamlining DHS' efforts to respond to disinformation that could be connected with violent threats to the U.S. homeland.
Disinformation is defined as "false information that is deliberately spread with the intent to deceive or mislead."
Previously, efforts to curb disinformation were carried out independently by agencies and offices operating under DHS' purview.
For instance, according to DHS, some of those projects include CISA's accounting of Russian cyber attacks and election interference, CBP's efforts to undermine false narratives peddled by human traffickers operating near the U.S.-Mexico border, DHS' guidance to the U.S. telecom industry to debunk false claims suggesting 5G cell towers spread COVID-19, and FEMA's fraud alerts, warning of criminals who take advantage of disaster survivors in the wake of super storms.
"This is not the truth police," Mayorkas declared to the Senate panel, Wednesday, responding to accusations of censorship. "Our work in addressing disinformation that threatens the security of the homeland has been going on for almost 10 years
. I asked the question – and we asked the question within the [Department of Homeland Security] – what efforts do we have underway? What policies, procedures and standards of conduct do we have in place to ensure that that vitally important homeland security work… does not infringe on fundamental rights?"
Mayorkas has repeatedly stated that the board will not censor and will not have "operational authority."
A mix of career and political appointees will staff the board, according to a senior DHS official who briefed CBS News and was granted anonymity to speak freely on the department's internal deliberations. While one official from each of the relevant components – CISA, FEMA, CBP, S & T, and I & A – will sit on the advisory committee, members of DHS' Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Privacy Office will also work with the group
It's co-chaired by DHS' Office of Policy and Office of the General Counsel, a highly unusual move intended to safeguard "privacy, civil rights, civil liberties and free speech," according to the official, in adherence with DHS' existing legal authorities.
DHS selected author and disinformation expert Nina Jankowicz to lead the board. The former Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellow previously oversaw programs for Russia and Belarus for the National Democratic Institute and has written two books: "How to Be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment," and "How to Fight Back; and How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict."
As for social media, DHS' Office of Intelligence Analysis currently conducts open source analysis of social media threats that pose a risk to the homeland. But DHS officials tell CBS News that engagement with social media threats will remain exclusively within I & A. "The board is not itself playing any role. It is not doing any sort of [social media] monitoring. Nor would the board have any authority that would augment pre-existing work and authorities of any given department."
"What this working group seeks to actually do is develop guidelines, standards, and guardrails to ensure that the work that has been ongoing for nearly 10 years does not infringe on people's free speech rights, rights of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties," Mayorkas said. "It was quite disconcerting, frankly, that the disinformation work that was well underway for many years, across different independent administrations was not guided by guardrails."
DHS officials concede the use of the word "governance" may have prompted "some misperceptions" about the board's role.
"This board and the department itself is not going around trying to label things as information, misinformation or disinformation," a senior DHS official said.
So, class, let's review.
Government agencies have actually been trying to identify disinformation for a decade or more, and more importantly how to deal with it. The biggest concern is foreign governments "weaponizing" it to attack the U.S., such as Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea. If you didn't know, those efforts to counter these threats have already been underway. If you had a problem with the government doing this, you ought to know it's been focused on this problem for a while. Given that disinformation is an actual threat to the U.S. national security, I happen to approve. Suppose the North Koreans deployed some bot-net spreading rumors about a false disaster in the U.S. that never happened, merely to create panic among U.S. citizens. Would you not want the government to deal with that?
The Disinformation Board that DHS created under Mayorkas is nothing but a clearinghouse and coordinating center. It is not undertaking any new activities. It is merely a place for the various agencies dealing with various kinds of disinformation threats to share information and coordinate their efforts with each other. I seem to remember some discussion about a big problem before 9/11 being that the FBI, CIA, and many agencies failed to share information with each other. Isn't this a good thing?
It is not going to police political speech on social media nor censor it. In fact, it has no new function in identifying disinformation, there are already government agencies that do that already
. They are identified in the article. Its goal is once a cyber-attack on the U.S. has been identified, to coordinate the response to it. That's it.
What a surprise. Misinformation about the Disinformation Board. Now: I do agree Mayorkas could have discussed this rollout of this program/agency a little bit more proactively before Republicans grilled him about it. Might have spared a lot of this angst. Even some Democrats, rightly, pointed out it should have been done with more openness and transparency.