CISA accused of colluding with Big Tech to censor election content, violating Americans’ free speech
By Cassie B. // Oct 06, 2023

A federal appeals court ruled this week that the country’s top cybersecurity defense agency was likely violating the First Amendment when it asked Big Tech to censor online content related to COVID-19 and elections.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has broadened the scope of an injunction that was already in place to limit the communication between the Biden administration and Big Tech firms to include the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The ruling previously only applied to the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, and the Surgeon General.

Litigation against the Biden administration in this case is being led by the Attorney General of Missouri, Andrew Bailey, who identified CISA as the “nerve center” of the administration’s “vast censorship enterprise.”

He added that CISA was the agency that worked alongside the FBI in censoring the infamous Hunter Biden laptop story that many believe had the potential to impact the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The agency was set up in 2018 to protect critical infrastructure and keep the nation safe from cybersecurity threats, but it appears to have turned some of its efforts toward surveilling social media and trying to control the narrative through its “mis, dis, and malformation” (MDM) team.

Speaking to Fox News Digital, Bailey said: "CISA was created to protect Americans from foreign attack, and now it has begun targeting its own citizens."

The panel of three judges determined in their court order that CISA had been the main party responsible for facilitating interactions between social media companies and the FBI and that they had joined together to push for changes to the platforms’ moderation policies.

The judges’ opinion stated: "CISA used its frequent interactions with social-media platforms to push them to adopt more restrictive policies on censoring election-related speech. And CISA officials affirmatively told the platforms whether the content they had ‘switchboarded’ was true or false."

They said that in much the same way that the CDC interfered regarding COVID-related claims, CISA told platforms whether some election claims were true or false, and their actions directly resulted in some content being either taken down or demoted by the different platforms.

They went on to add that the platforms then made their decisions using policies they were pressured into implementing by CISA, whose influence on their decisions about content moderation ultimately amounts to a violation of the First Amendment.

Numerous officials are banned from meeting with social media companies to discuss content moderation

Under the injunction, officials are blocked from meeting with any social media companies with the aim of pressuring or otherwise encouraging them to suppress, reduce, delete or remove any content that contains protected free speech posted by its users. However, federal government officials can still get involved in communications involving criminal conspiracies or criminal activity, extortion, national security threats and other types of threats that impact public safety.

The parties named in the lawsuit are also banned from working with academic groups whose work is related to social media, such as the Stanford Internet Observatory and the Election Integrity Partnership, to prevent them from trying to exert their influence through third parties.

The injunction arose from a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri accusing Biden administration officials of colluding with social media platforms “under the guise of combating misinformation” that resulted in censorship on topics such as the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of face masks in preventing the transmission of the virus, and the Hunter Biden laptop story, among others.

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