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DHS is Still Withholding Information in its Efforts To Censor “Misinformation, Disinformation, And Malinformation”

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is continuing to hold back information about its efforts to police online speech in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The Americans For Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, a political advocacy group, has spent years attempting to get the DHS to hand over records on its efforts to censor “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.” However, the DHS has responded by heavily redacting any records it turns over to the group.

The DHS is citing FOIA Exemption 7(E), which protects “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions,” to justify the redactions.

Kevin Schmidt, the Director of Investigations at AFP, blasted the DHS for obfuscating the contents of the documents.

“If DHS believes it has the authority to police people’s online speech, it should be open with the public about what those authorities are,” he said.

He added that the DHS’s use of FOIA Exemption 7(E) “suggests the DHS is either overstating its authorities or it’s abusing FOIA exemptions to avoid transparency.”

Despite the heavy redactions, the documents do show the DHS arguing it has the authority to target “MDM” — its acronym for misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.

Another document shows that the DHS’s Disinformation Governance Board had a “Ukraine MDM Playbook” before it was shut down.

The AFP Foundation isn’t the only entity that’s struggled to get the DHS to hand over information on its speech policing activities. It has previously stonewalled Congress’s attempts to get details on the DHS’s “anti-disinformation” practices.

Additionally, the DHS has been accused of attempting to avoid transparency by using channels such as Slack and personal cellphones to hold meetings about its misinformation efforts.

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