Witness in Congressional hearing says DHS led the creation of a 'censorship apparatus'

"Because this agency ... actively not just participated, but led this creation of this censorship apparatus," Shellenberger said.

Published: December 13, 2023 3:41pm

Congressional witness Michael Shellenberger alleged Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security led the creation of a "censorship apparatus" by working with social media companies to censor Americans' speech. 

"I think that if there's important cybersecurity activities happening in CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] that should continue, I think that they need to be under a different agency," he said during the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability hearing.

"Because this agency ... actively not just participated, but led this creation of this censorship apparatus," he added.

In 2022, the DHS helped launch public-private partnership to flag and mass-report alleged election misinformation to social media platforms in 2020.

The CISA worked with private entities to remove, throttle and label purported misinformation on elections, Hunter Biden and COVID-19 — efforts that might constitute election meddling and sometimes even target true content, according to reporting from Just the News. 

"Make no mistake, the efforts to censor public discourse under the guise of so-called 'mis-, dis-, and mal-information threaten this essential freedom and the very core of our republic," Subcommittee Chairman Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said during his opening remarks. 

Shellenberger is an independent reporter who is a colleague of "Twitter Files" journalist Matt Taibbi, who has also been outspoken about government censorship. 

"It was a mass flagging and censoring operation that was coordinated with a broader effort to pressure platforms to do more censorship," he said during the hearing. "This was going on since 2016."

Other witnesses during the hearing included CEO of New Civil Liberties Alliance Mark Chenoweth, inaugural litigation director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University Alex Abdo and Council to Modernize Governance Senior Fellow Gary Lawkowski. 

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