(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security after it ignored the deadline in a Freedom of Information Act request for communication records detailing an online censorship campaign during the 2020 presidential election.
According to the Daily Caller, the group was seeking emails between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Election Integrity Partnership, a deceptively named left-wing organization with ties to the George Soros-linked Poynter Institute.
The groups likely have an “information exchange” on record between researchers, election officials and government agencies, which collaborated to identify misinformation on social media and flag particular posts for platforms to address.
“We’ve had these disclosures essentially over the last year that federal agencies, especially DHS, have been working to censor Americans… either directly or indirectly,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
Through the EIP, leftist groups like the Democratic National Committee and the NAACP were able to report possible election information, which the EIP then investigated and sent along to social-media platforms to address.
A 2021 report compiled by the EIP showed that its efforts to address misinformation in the 2020 election resulted in “35% of the URLS shared with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube … [being] either labeled, removed or soft blocked.”
The Judicial Watch lawsuit was written to confirm and address this backchannel policing of people’s speech.
“There’s these federal frauds that colluded to come up with a system of censorship for social media, and it looks like this agency [DHS] participated in it and we want to figure out what was going on,” Fitton said.
The watchdog group also requested communications records from discussions between the CISA and the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, as well as the Stanford Internet Observatory. Both of the latter groups are part of the EIP.
However, because DHS unlawfully missed the Nov. 3 FOIA deadline, they are now facing a lawsuit.
“When an agency unlawfully refuses to comply with FOIA, we have the option of suing the federal court, which is what we did,” Fitton explained. “This is a threat to the first Amendment like we’ve never seen in modern history.”