Former Twitter exec advised secretive DHS agency engaging in ‘censorship’

Vijaya Gadde sat on an advisory committee that drafted a June report encouraging a DHS agency to take an active role in combating the spread of misinformation.

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(Daily Caller News Foundation) — Twitter’s former head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde sat on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory board that encouraged the agency to expand a program that some experts allege engaged in “collusion” with social media platforms to engage in “censorship,” according to documents obtained by investigate news outlet The Intercept.

The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is a sub-committee within the DHS that is responsible for “routing disinformation concerns” to private platforms, which can take the form of sending emails to platforms like Twitter to take certain accounts under “consideration,” and is a key part of the agency’s quiet efforts to curb speech it finds problematic, according to The Intercept. Gadde sat on an advisory committee, known as the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, that drafted a June report encouraging the agency to take an active role in combating the spread of misinformation, arguing that the agency needed to “proactively provide informational resources” to educate the public and provide “financial support to external partners” that collaborated with CISA.

CISA and DHS emails that call attention to certain posts or accounts contain disclaimers that stress that the agency “neither has nor seeks the ability to remove or edit what information is made available on social media platforms,” The Intercept reported. However, the nature of such messages is essentially an act of “collusion” between the government and the company involved, Adam Candeub, a law professor at Michigan State University, told The Intercept.

“If a foreign authoritarian government sent these messages, there is no doubt we would call it censorship,” former president of the American Civil Liberties Union Nadine Strossen told The Intercept.

While Gadde has reportedly been fired from her role at Twitter, following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, she remains listed as a member of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee at the time of writing.

Gadde’s removal prompted some pushback from civil rights groups and other watchdogs, according to Politico.

“She’s the moral compass and clear-eyed leader of the sort of decision-making team there on everything from standing up to laws that violate human rights from authoritarian regimes … to making decisions on election integrity violations and hate speech in the U.S.,” Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of social media watchdog Accountable Tech, told Politico. The decision to remove Gadde, said Lehrich, is a “long-term catastrophe.”

Allegations of online censorship are central to a suit against the Biden administration launched by Republican Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana. A judge recently granted their request to depose Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci, alongside other top administration officials, so they could testify about the relationships between social media companies and the White House response to COVID-19.

Neither Twitter nor CISA immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

 

John Hugh DeMastri