The Mail on Sunday reported that UK Royal Air Force (RAF) intelligence agents participated in a covert operation run by Whitehall, which was suspected of surveilling private citizens speaking out against Covid lockdown measures. This secretive operation was led by The Army’s “information warfare brigade,” tasked with analyzing online commentary – a charge the Ministry of Defence repeatedly rebuffed publicly until the recent reveal.
Documentation furnished by this publication suggests the Armed Forces, particularly those located at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, assisted various government bodies, such as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport’s Counter Disinformation Unit and the Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit. Their engagement in these initiatives was much more substantial than formerly known, per this latest revelation.
The clandestine operations in focus took on the challenge of countering “disinformation” and “harmful” narratives throughout the pandemic. However, they also garnered severe backlash for allegedly gathering data from lawful social media posts that challenged the Government’s lockdown maneuvers.
Prominent public figures, like David Davis MP, who voiced skepticism over the Covid mortality rates’ computed projections, and journalist Peter Hitchens, were the subjects of government reports. Insiders from the defense department conceded that the military’s contribution to such operations might be portrayed as spying on UK citizens, a segment from the furnished documents revealed.
However, the MoD alleged that the absence of Armed Forces support in overseeing online discourse could catalyze the propagation of “misinformation,” which could cause harm.
Jake Hurfurt, representing the advocacy group Big Brother Watch, didn’t mince his words, slamming these activities asking for a review on how the government monitored the British people throughout the pandemic period. He stated to the Mail on Sunday, “The revelations that the RAF as well as the Army spied on the British people during the pandemic is yet more evidence that the MoD misled the public about the role of its psyops troops in 2020.”
The government responded to these allegations stating, “Online disinformation is a serious threat, which is why in the pandemic we brought together expertise from across government to monitor disinformation about Covid.”
They alleged that all data collected were from public sources and the units did not target individuals or interfere with public discussions.
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