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Senator Schmitt Challenges Big Tech Collaboration with Feds

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Senator Eric Schmitt of Missouri is taking action against federal agencies, demanding they disclose records related to their recent initiatives aimed at censoring online comments flagged as “disinformation” ahead of the 2024 elections.

Schmitt’s letter calls on FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to reveal documents detailing their collaboration with Big Tech companies to suppress information seen as unfavorable to the federal government.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

The letter follows reports that federal agencies are continuing their conversations with social media platforms, over the content on the platforms.

Schmitt emphasized the federal government’s involvement in what he described as a censorship-industrial complex, particularly highlighting the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP).

“This activity between the government and social media companies runs contrary to the fundamental beliefs of our nation,” Schmitt wrote. “Without remorse for this Administration’s past unconstitutional actions or detailing any new protections for the rights of American citizens, senior officials have announced that this Administration will once again revive its vast censorship enterprise ‘with intensity.'”

Senator Schmitt, who has been a vocal advocate for free speech, emphasized the essential role of open debate in American democracy. “The freedom to share ideas and debate opinions about the major issues of the day is a bedrock principle of our country. This exchange of opinions in the town square or virtual town square is a foundational element of what it means to be an American and critical to an informed electorate,” he stated.

Highlighting past actions, Schmitt noted the scale of federal involvement in content moderation. “Now, it is well known that the scale of government officials, spanning all the way up to the White House, ordered social media companies to remove posts and deplatform users, all under the guise of combatting disinformation. In reality, this was a centralized campaign to silence conservatives and others the Biden Administration disagrees with,” Schmitt claimed.

The Senator also accused the current administration of using its power to manipulate the upcoming election. “While your agencies once again ramp up massive censorship campaigns, this Administration has essentially admitted it will use this unlawful power to manipulate the 2024 election. On one of the first days in office, this Administration flagged and requested that a tweet from a political opponent in the 2024 election be ‘removed ASAP,'” Schmitt revealed.

According to a November report by House Republicans, the EIP, coordinated by the Stanford Internet Observatory at CISA’s request, worked with DHS to monitor and censor Americans’ online speech before the 2020 election. This partnership was designed to evade the First Amendment and public scrutiny by laundering federal censorship efforts through private entities.

The interim report documented the EIP’s attempts to censor various types of content, including true information, satire, and political opinions, by flagging them for Big Tech censorship. Among those targeted were The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway and Sean Davis.

Schmitt also pointed to the government’s influence over social media companies before the 2022 elections, noting the FBI’s role in establishing a process to flag posts deemed as disinformation. This process frequently targeted American citizens’ discussions about the election.

In his letter, Schmitt demanded that Wray and Mayorkas provide detailed information on their renewed interactions with Big Tech, including the start date of these communications, safeguards for First Amendment rights, protections for political speech, and a list of topics labeled as misinformation or disinformation. He set a deadline of June 3 for the agencies to comply with his requests.

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