Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board has no place in a democracy

By: Rachel Marsden

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Are people really so gullible as to agree to trade freedom for the illusion of security – yet again?

The Biden administration’s announcement of a new “Disinformation Governance Board” under the Department of Homeland Security is just the latest example of government overreach.

We’ve already allowed Uncle Sam to poke his nose into our lives in the interests of helping him fight the global war on terrorism. The result? The Patriot Act stalked our technological footprints with massive dragnets. Initially, many would say that they didn’t mind the data collection because they knew that they hadn’t done anything wrong, and that the state was only interested in the bad actors. And since many grew comfortable with government cyberstalking, it wasn’t much of a stretch when their big-tech partners in the private sector started collecting, exploiting, and even sharing our private data, which we’ve grown all too accustomed to giving up for the sake of convenience or social media attention.

How exactly did all of this serve the cause of our security? We’re still taking off our shoes at airports and it’s far too arguable, particularly in light of what we’ve sacrificed, whether domestic terrorism prevention actually benefited from the existence of this technological panopticon.

Likewise, during the COVID-19 pandemic era, we have all seen our health information tied to databases and linked to government-issued QR codes — all now in the process of global harmonization, just so that we can freely travel. Do you feel safer from this overhyped virus because of these new government systems? Or do you feel like we’ve taken yet another quantum bureaucratic leap in the direction of authoritarianism made under the convenient pretext of fear?

Enter Biden’s new “Disinformation Board”, announced on April 27 and serving the interests of Homeland Security. We’re told that it’s going to protect us all from even more “threats”, namely “Russian disinformation” and misleading messages about the U.S.-border.

It’s one thing to correct false information. But it’s yet another to censor information or analysis that simply runs counter to the official government narrative on any given issue. The appointment of Nina Jankowicz as the board’s new executive director strongly suggests that this isn’t a case of simply wanting to correct false data. Jankowicz, 33, has served as communications adviser for the Ukraine foreign ministry and has written a book portraying the global media landscape as an information war between America and Russia which the U.S. needs to win — a view which serves to propagate the notion of “good” and “bad” information.

The framing is propaganda unto itself, as it implicitly urges westerners to dismiss any information that doesn’t come from sources that it approves. It’s a perilous slippery slope. One that you’d think Jankowicz might appreciate since one could use similar logic to argue that because she served the government of Ukraine, perhaps she’s not exactly best positioned to oversee a U.S. government entity responsible for global information arbitrage. Unless, of course, the objective isn’t neutrality but rather propaganda and censorship of opposing views with a single mission: maximum government control over the narrative.

Today, the targets are information and delivery platforms that contradict the state on the Ukraine conflict and immigration to the U.S. But tomorrow, they could be information or analysis that you appreciate. Diversity of information is meant to help people make up their own minds. And this administration is infringing on your ability to do so.

So why are they doing this? A French senator, Jean-Raymond Hugonet of the center-right Republican Party, dropped a clue during a committee meeting last year about China’s social credit system. “It is very interesting to see the way in which China, which has a population infinitely larger than that of European countries, is tackling the treatment of a virus much more important than the COVID, which will overwhelm us — namely the anomie, that is to say the absence of recognition, by a human being or by a society, of the rules and laws,” Hugonet said. “We have seen the yellow vests and are witnessing manifestations of anomie in France every day.”

The rise of populism in the West in response to establishment failures has sparked a desire for greater state control over what people see, hear, and think. To avoid another Brexit or the election of another Donald Trump in response to an unpopular agenda, there seems to be a desire to dominate the messaging on matters such as immigration and NATO-backed foreign conflicts like the one in Ukraine.

Informational diversity and contradictory debate – cornerstones of a functional democracy — are being played up as security threats. In reality, it’s just more nanny state authoritarianism ushered in the back door while people hide upstairs from the bogeyman du jour.