The federal government worked extensively with Stanford University and other entities to censor American’s speech in the lead-up to the 2020 election, according to a new congressional report.
The House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government released the interim staff report Monday after a lengthy investigation into the so-called “Election Integrity Partnership” (EIP) operated by federal employees.
The EIP was created in the summer of 2020, and was led by Stanford University’s Stanford Internet Observatory.
One EIP member stated in a July 2020 email that the EIP was created “at the request of DHS/CISA and are in weekly comms to debrief on disinfo, IO, etc…”
CISA is the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a subagency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The House report reveals how “external stakeholders,” including federal agencies and organizations funded by the federal government, submitted “misinformation reports” to the EIP, which were then sent to Big Tech companies with recommendations on how social media platform should censor certain posts.
The report describes the EIP as “a way for the federal government to launder its censorship activities in hopes of bypassing both the First Amendment and public scrutiny.”
Misinformation reports were submitted to the EIP through a centralized reporting system, known as “Jira tickets,” which were accessible only to select parties, including federal agencies, universities, and Big Tech companies.
One never-before-seen email from May 2020 released in the House report contains an acknowledgment from the DHS that they could not “openly endorse” the EIP’s centralized portal.
Several hundred of the nonpublic Jira tickets were published alongside the House report.
According to the report, the misinformation reports “targeted true information, jokes, and political opinions of Americans across the political spectrum, but especially conservatives.”
Notable subjects of EIP misinformation reports include former President and 2020 candidate Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Newsmax, the Daily Wire, the Babylon Bee, and conservative commentators Sean Hannity, Candace Owens, and Charlie Kirk.
Internal emails between EIP and CISA officials published in the House report show collusion between the federal agency and the EIP to censor social media posts.
In one example from September 2020, Twitter posts regarding an allegation of thousands of ballots found in a dumpster in Sonoma, California, were removed only an hour after a Jira ticket was created — after then-CISA Director Chris Kebbs personally reached out to the head of the Stanford Internet Observatory Alex Stamos regarding the posts.
Another email from October 2020 shows a senior CISA official telling the Office of the Colorado Secretary of State that CISA had flagged parody accounts to Twitter.
“The EIP routinely flagged conservative content on social media under the guise that it was inappropriately ‘delegitimizing’ election results, even in cases where the content was factually accurate,” the House report states. “Criticism of the electoral system is constitutionally protected speech.”
“A political system that allows a small minority of government-approved ‘experts’ to exercise influence over the ability of other citizens to express concerns with the government represents a profound threat to our constitutional republic,” the report adds.
The Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee’s investigation into CISA’s activities surrounding the censorship of American’s speech remains ongoing, despite CISA not complying with subpoenas from the committees.