DHS watchdog phone calls for ‘unified’ disinformation tactic next disinfo board collapse

FILE – Homeland Safety brand is witnessed all through a joint information conference in Washington, Feb. 25, 2015. The Division of Homeland Stability paused the perform of its new disinformation governance board Wednesday. The move responds to months of criticism from Republicans and concerns about no matter if the board would impinge on Americans’ free speech rights. A statement states DHS’ advisory board on homeland protection will assessment the board’s get the job done. (AP Image/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

DHS watchdog phone calls for ‘unified’ disinformation method subsequent disinfo board collapse

Ryan King

August 11, 06:00 PM August 11, 06:00 PM

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The Section of Homeland Protection need to set up a “unified strategy” to counter the spread of falsehoods in cyberspace, in accordance to the agency’s independent watchdog.

When refraining from contacting for a revival of the controversial Disinformation Governance Board the DHS set on pause in May perhaps, the agency’s inspector basic argued the department requires to devise a coherent prepare to tackle mounting falsehoods spreading on the online that could threaten civil “unrest” in the place.


“DHS is responsible for coordinating the countrywide reaction to cyber incidents,” the DHS watchdog reported in a report dated Wednesday. “Without the need of a unified method, DHS faces confined conversation and consciousness among the its components, constraints, and confusion more than which DHS component need to guide precise initiatives to counter disinformation.”

Over the latest decades, the DHS has set up multiple process forces to counter misinformation campaigns, the report uncovered. For case in point, in 2018, it set up the Countering Overseas Influence Job Drive and later on founded the International Impact and Interference Department in its Business of Intelligence and Assessment.

On the other hand, a DHS OIG audit of the department’s tactic to countering disinformation strategies on social media concluded the DHS lacks “top-down steerage from the [DHS] Secretary to mitigate disinformation,” for every the DHS watchdog’s report.

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To coordinate efforts to counter disinformation campaigns far better, the report proposed the DHS Place of work of System, Coverage, and Options draft specific strategies for a “unified approach” for countering the malicious misinformation strategies.

“A a lot more unified method is also required to mitigate the menace of civil unrest from disinformation that may perhaps distribute rumors about COVID-19 vaccines or boost fear about meals and supply shortages, among the other things,” the report ongoing.

In April, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas educated the Household Judiciary Committee that his division experienced proven a disinformation board to counter the dissemination of falsehoods on the net. The board was meant to counter “wrong info that is intentionally spread with the intent to deceive or mislead,” in accordance to the DHS. About a few months later on, the DHS paused the board.

The board confronted a torrent of criticisms from conservatives this sort of as Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who mocked the panel as the “Ministry of Truth of the matter” and panned it as Orwellian. The board’s leader, Nina Jankowicz, also confronted ire from conservatives for her previous social media responses, together with disputed promises about Trump-Russia collusion.

Previous thirty day period, a Homeland Stability Advisory Council subcommittee advisable the DHS permanently nix the board.

In its report calling for a “unified approach,” the DHS OIG stressed it had not audited the disinformation board.

“We did not validate detailed info about the board, a strategy, or milestones as aspect of this audit, as it was fashioned just after our fieldwork was total,” the watchdog reported in a footnote in its report.

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