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Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop more online censorship laws

(LifeSiteNews) – The activities of a volunteer “anti-disinformation” initiative that has inspired tactics for official government policy provides the “missing link” between public and private censorship of the internet, according to a bombshell new collection of documents about the so-called Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTIL).

Writing at the Substack newsletter Public, journalists Michael Shellenberger, Alex Gutentag, and Matt Taibbi detail an “explosive new trove of documents” provided by a “highly credible” anonymous CTIL whistleblower that “describe everything from the genesis of modern digital censorship programs to the role of the military and intelligence agencies, partnerships with civil society organizations and commercial media, and the use of sock puppet accounts and other offensive techniques.”

According to the documents, the censorship framework defining the strategies of public and private censorship efforts in 2020 and beyond – including government pressure on private companies to quash objectionable content – was developed in 2019 by a group of American and British defense contractors led by former UK defense researcher Sara-Jayne “SJ” Terp, and that in addition to curbing disfavored content it entailed promoting preferred narratives through a variety of tactics, including the creation of fake or “sock-puppet” social media accounts.

CTIL’s goal “was to become part of the federal government,” according to the whistleblower, who alleges to have been recruited into the project via cybersecurity meetings hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “In our weekly meetings, they made it clear that they were building these organizations within the federal government, and if you built the first iteration, we could secure a job for you.”

At the very least, the group succeeded to some extent in creating what Terp called “Misinfosec communities” with government entities; in April 2020, for instance, then-director of the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Chris Krebs touted the agency’s partnership with CTIL and the “more than 1,000 net defenders from around the world” it represented, ostensibly to “stop malicious cyber activity related to” the COVID pandemic.

At least a dozen and as many as 20 people involved with CTIL were also employees of CISA and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even temporarily bore their agency seals next to their names in the slack messaging system, according to the whistleblower.

Among CTIL’s fruits was the creation of a strategy framework called Adversarial Misinformation & Influence Tactics & Techniques (AMITT), adapted from a cybersecurity framework by billion-dollar define contractor MITRE. 

AMITT was later used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to counter vaccine criticisms, and earlier this year was formally adopted by the U.S. and European Union as part of a “common standard for exchanging structured threat information on Foreign Information Manipulation and Inteference” [sic].

AMITT is not just about silencing individual pieces of content, according to the documents, but discrediting their authors more comprehensively and even pressuring for organizers of dissenting messages to be denied access to financial services.

AMITT framework calls for discrediting individuals as a necessary prerequisite of demanding censorship against them. It calls for training influencers to spread messages. And it calls for trying to get banks to cut off financial services to individuals who organize rallies or events.

The documents also contain further confirmation that such efforts significantly grew after 2016 as a response to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss of the U.S. presidency to an unlikely foe, and the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the E.U., which leftists took as signs of their weakening monopoly on what the general public knows about current events.

“A study of the antecedents to these events lead us to the realization that there’s something off kilter with our information landscape,” Terp and colleagues wrote in one report. “The usual useful idiots and fifth columnists — now augmented by automated bots, cyborgs and human trolls — are busily engineering public opinion, stoking up outrage, sowing doubt and chipping away at trust in our institutions. And now it’s our brains that are being hacked.”

“For a long time, the ability to reach mass audiences belonged to the nation-state (e.g. in the USA via broadcast licensing through ABC, CBS and NBC),” the report added. “Now, however, control of informational instruments has been allowed to devolve to large technology companies who have been blissfully complacent and complicit in facilitating access to the public for information operators at a fraction of what it would have cost them by other means.”

Most agencies implicated in the leak predictably declined to comment, but one individual involved in CTIL simply insisted to Public that the group was “unaffiliated with any govt orgs” and “had nothing to do with the govt.”

“Over the next several days and weeks, we intend to present these documents to Congressional investigators, and will make public all of the documents we can while also protecting the identity of the whistleblower and other individuals who are not senior leaders or public figures,” Shellenberger, Gutentag, and Taibbi say.

Earlier this month, House Republicans released a report detailing how under Trump CISA and the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) worked with Stanford University and other entities to establish the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), through which requests to censor “thousands” of conservative posts were laundered so as to keep the government’s fingerprints off censorship.

Since then, the Biden administration has at times openly admitted that it encourages platforms like Facebook to take down certain content. Next year, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear Murthy v. Missouri, which concerns whether the White House’s encouragement of private censorship constitutes a violation of the First Amendment and will have wide-ranging implications for activities like those exposed by these reports.

Send an urgent message to Canadian legislators urging them to stop more online censorship laws