Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Censorship Industrial Complex

Kennedy, CHD win injunction in landmark censorship case against Biden administration

Published

11 minute read

From LifeSiteNews

This article was originally published by The Defender — Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website.

The court recognized that the “right of free speech is a fundamental constitutional right that is vital to the freedom of our nation, and the Kennedy plaintiffs have produced evidence of a massive effort by defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”

A federal judge on Wednesday handed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Children’s Health Defense (CHD) a partial win in their landmark censorship case alleging the Biden administration colluded with social media platforms to unlawfully censor online content.

Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting key Biden administration officials and agencies from coercing or significantly encouraging social media platforms to suppress or censor online content.

However, Judge Doughty simultaneously issued a stay on the injunction until 10 days after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a similar case, Murthy v. Missouri.

That case, filed in May 2022 by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana and several individual plaintiffs, was originally filed as Missouri v. Biden.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on March 18 on a preliminary injunction in Murthy v. Missouri.

Mary Holland, CHD president, told The Defender that the Valentine’s Day ruling was “a welcome Valentine to the Kennedy plaintiffs,” and “an important victory for the U.S. Constitution.”

She added:

“In a thorough decision, Judge Doughty reasoned that the plaintiffs do have ‘standing’ or the right to sue and be heard; that the defendants have engaged in coercion or significant encouragement to censorship and joint action with social media platforms; and that the court is required to issue the preliminary injunction.

“Further, because it is well-established that violations of free speech rights constitute irreparable injury, the Court acted even before an ultimate decision from the Supreme Court in Murthy v. Missouri. Judge Doughty wrote: ‘This Court … finds the balance of equities and the public interest strongly favors the issue of a preliminary injunction.’

“No doubt the Supreme Court will take account of this ruling as it hears oral arguments in Murthy v. Missouri on March 18.”

The suit was filed on behalf of the more than 80% of Americans who access news through social media.

Judge Doughty consolidated Kennedy v. Biden and Murthy v. Biden in July 2023. Both cases were being argued in his court and had the same defendants and many common legal and factual issues.

Although the cases were consolidated, Doughty ruled that the District Court continues to have jurisdiction over Kennedy and CHD’s separate motion for a preliminary injunction, underscoring the fact that a delayed ruling would delay Kennedy from vindicating his claims.

The U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to The Defender’s request for comment.

‘The right of free speech is a fundamental constitutional right’

In his 24-page ruling, Judge Doughty found that several of the defendants in the Kennedy et al. v. Biden lawsuit were violating the plaintiffs’ free speech rights under the First Amendment, causing irreparable harm. He ordered them to cease these violations.

The court recognized that the “right of free speech is a fundamental constitutional right that is vital to the freedom of our nation, and the Kennedy plaintiffs have produced evidence of a massive effort by defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”

Plaintiffs alleged Biden administration officials “waged a systematic, concerted campaign” to compel the nation’s three largest social media companies to censor constitutionally protected speech.

The government, the lawsuit alleges, pressured social media platforms to directly suppress or censor Kennedy and CHD from major platforms and to do the same to content containing views about COVID-19 and other issues that contradicted the government narrative.

Kennedy and CHD argued the court should rule on the preliminary injunction now, because the case is different from Murthy v. Missouri, asks for a more specific injunction and because the defendants singled out Kennedy, who is a U.S. presidential candidate, for censorship.

In determining the merits of the plaintiffs’ motion, Doughty first had to rule on whether the plaintiffs had standing. On that issue, “the court provided strong concrete examples of government coercion or encouragement to censor, particularly with respect to Mr. Kennedy and CHD,” said Kim Mack Rosenberg, CHD general counsel.

Doughty cited evidence that defendants labeled Kennedy as part of the “Disinformation Dozen” who were eventually censored from social media and that some of CHD’s social media posts were also censored.

He also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with the Virality Project to reduce or delete social media posts by people and organizations they believed to be spreading “misinformation” about COVID-19.

The Virality Project explicitly listed Kennedy and CHD in the fifth and second place as the highest performing weekly social-media engagement incidents, he wrote.

“This evidence also was key in the Court’s decision that plaintiffs met all the requirements to support issuing the injunction and that the balance of equities favored plaintiffs here,” Mack Rosenberg added.

Doughty also found the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim, writing:

“As in Missouri v. Biden, the White House Defendants and the Surgeon General Defendants both coerced and significantly encouraged social-media platforms to suppress protected free speech.

“This Court further finds the CDC Defendants, the CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] Defendants and the FBI Defendants significantly encouraged social-media platforms to suppress protected free speech.”

Defendants ‘likely’ to use their power to suppress alternative views in the future

The defendants have argued that the actions at stake occurred in the past and cannot be remedied by issuing an injunction prohibiting future actions and that there is no “imminent harm” to the defendants because the COVID-19 pandemic and the election where the alleged conduct occurred are in the past.

However, Doughty ruled that the alleged past actions also indicate there is a substantial risk of likely future harm.

“Defendants apparently continue to have meetings with social-media companies and other contacts,” he wrote, adding:

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer an emergency, it is likely that in the event of any other real or perceived emergency event, the Defendants likely would once again use their power over social-media companies to suppress alternative views.

“And it is certainly likely that Defendants could use their power over millions of people to suppress alternative views or moderate content they do not agree with in the upcoming 2024 national election.”

Although Doughty granted a substantial part of Kennedy et al.’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the White House, the surgeon general, the CDC, FBI and the CISA, he also denied the request for an injunction against several other agencies.

The injunction excluded the U.S. Department of State, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, who were also included in the plaintiffs’ request.

The Defender on occasion posts content related to Children’s Health Defense’s nonprofit mission that features Mr. Kennedy’s views on the issues CHD and The Defender regularly cover. In keeping with Federal Election Commission rules, this content does not represent an endorsement of Mr. Kennedy who is on leave from CHD and is running for president of the U.S. as an independent candidate.

This article was originally published by The Defender — Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Please consider subscribing to The Defender or donating to Children’s Health Defense.

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

Censorship Industrial Complex

Australia passes digital ID bill, raising fears of government surveillance without accountability

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By David James

Critics argue the legislation, enacted under the guise of increased security, ramps up government surveillance and control, with no accountability mechanisms for public sector misuse.

The Australian Parliament has passed the Digital ID Bill 2024 and Digital ID (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Bill 2024 which, it claims, will provide “certainty” for the expansion of the existing Australian government digital ID system.

The move is being presented as a way to improve “privacy and security” for people when interacting online by “verifying” users’ identities. The government claims that the legislation will reduce fraud and other malpractice by private actors, but the bill says nothing about the public actors, the government. The implication is that that the public sector will never do anything wrong with its increased powers, raising the suspicion that it is yet another move by state and federal governments to increase surveillance and control over the lives of citizens.

Australia is a paternalistic society and there is no mechanism to hold the executive branch of government accountable – indeed the possibility is rarely raised. There is thus nothing to stop more intrusions into people’s privacy by the government.

Commenting on the passing of the bill, Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts from the One Nation Party said that, while the voluntary system has been presented as a measure for security and convenience it could lead to significant privacy breaches, cyber-attacks, and government overreach. He described it as a potential attack on Australians’ “freedom, privacy, and way of life,” especially if it eventually becomes mandatory.

Roberts pointed to the Digital ID bill, the Online Safety Act, the Identity Services Verification Act, and the Misinformation and Disinformation Bill as elements of what looks like a coordinated plan by the federal government “to identify, punish and imprison anyone who resists this slide back into serfdom.” In the initial inquiry into the Digital ID bill, he said, the Human Rights Commission “drew attention to the lack of protection of privacy and human rights in the bill,” but it was ignored. Roberts added that the bill is very similar to legislation being implemented in other Western nations.

A significant proportion of the Australian population has concluded that politicians and the public sector cannot be trusted and that they fail to scrutinize their own actions. As if to underline this unaccountability, the Digital ID bill was passed using “tricks used to stifle debate and public discussion,” according to former federal senator Craig Kelly. He said on X (formerly Twitter) that the way the bill was passed was “contrary to precedent, the spirit of the Constitution and [the] Westminster tradition.”

“Labor introduced the Digital ID in the Senate (the House of review) instead of the House of Representatives,” Kelly wrote. “Then they guillotined debate in the Senate. And in House of Representatives, Labor shifted debate to the Federation Chamber where the Liberals put up token resistance with only one Liberal MP and two National MP’s bothering to speak on the Bill – and they didn’t even try any amendments to protect privacy or to try and safeguard against it being made compulsory.”

The government mendacity continues – at a time when federal laws against “disinformation and misinformation” are being debated. There is constant propaganda in government-funded media outlets about what an effective job was done against the “pandemic” by pursuing lockdowns and mass vaccination. It is false; there was no pandemic. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 2020 and 2021 had the lowest number of deaths from respiratory diseases since records have been kept.

The federal government, in a statement, is giving the impression that the move is merely a way to protect vulnerable Australians, to give certainty for providers and services, and to provide transparency in order “to build public trust.” But what is not said is more important than what is said. There is no mechanism for Australians to redress wrongs committed by the government.

What should happen is something that has never existed in Australia: the establishment of a way for Australians to hold the public sector accountable and stop their governments becoming a menace, as occurred during the “pandemic.” Unless public servants are at risk of being penalized, or at least of having their actions constrained, there is a strong likelihood that fears about the Digital ID Bill will ultimately be realized.

Continue Reading

Censorship Industrial Complex

Jim Jordan Exposes Biden’s Censorship-Industrial Complex

Published on

From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By TOM HEBERT

 

“Internal talking points prepared by Amazon,” says the report, “included the question: ‘Is the [Biden] Admin asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both).’”

High-ranking Biden White House operatives coerced Big Tech companies into censoring posts critical of the Biden administration or those that spread so-called “misinformation” about COVID-19. A blockbuster new report from the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, exposes how the Biden administration weaponized Big Tech against conservatives.

“The report,” the committee said when it released it, “details the months-long campaign by the Biden White House to coerce large companies, namely Facebook, Google, and Amazon, to censor books, videos, posts, and other content online. By the end of 2021, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon changed their content moderation policies in ways that were directly responsive to criticism from the Biden Administration.”

This report is the result of a multi-year investigation by the Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The evidence, including tens of thousands of emails and other non-public documents, shows a disturbing pattern of Biden officials pressuring Big Tech companies into censoring Americans online.

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration in 2021, then-White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty began haranguing top Facebook officials for more detail on their policies for taking down COVID-19 related posts. “In February 2021,” says the report, “Facebook increased its censorship of anti-vaccine content as well as the lab leak theory of the origin of the virus because of ‘tense conversations with the new [Biden] Administration’ and as part of an effort to be responsive to the Biden White House’s exhortations to ‘do more’ to combat alleged misinformation.”

As 2021 progressed, the White House demanded to know what Facebook was doing to censor “borderline content,” posts that did not violate Facebook’s content moderation policies but were nevertheless objectionable to Biden officials. “Facebook would meet again with the Biden White House on March 12, 2021, to discuss how it was approaching ‘borderline content,’ that is, content that did not violate its policies,” says the report.

“Facebook walked through its policies and enforcement practices for violative and borderline content,” it says. “But call notes reveal that throughout the meeting, Flaherty continued to ask about the removal and reduction of content above all else.”

Unsatisfied with Facebook’s unwillingness to “play ball,” Flaherty and the White House played hard ball. On July 16, 2021, a reporter asked Biden: “On Covid misinformation, what’s your message to platforms like Facebook?” Biden responded: “They’re killing people.”

In response to the intense pressure from the White House, Facebook went on to change their content moderation policies and censored posts about vaccine hesitancy and the lab-leak theory.

Facebook was not the only social media platform that Biden officials pressured. In April 2021, Flaherty reached out to YouTube with a litany of questions about YouTube’s efforts to censor borderline content. “Flaherty’s email was particularly focused on how YouTube handled non-violative ‘borderline’ content,” says the report. “These requests were prefaced by stating the Biden White House wanted ‘to be sure that you have a handle on vaccine hesitancy generally and are working toward making the problem better’ and that this ‘is a concern that is shared at the highest (and I mean highest) level of the [White House].’”

After Flaherty succeeded in making YouTube change its content moderation policies “to remove content that questioned the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines,” other Biden bureaucrats started to pester YouTube employees to clamp down on other content. In March 2022, according to the committee report, former Biden advisor Tim Wu asked for a meeting with Google employees to discuss “Russian misinformation/disinformation” and “airline competition.”

Another staffer communicated with YouTube about abortion-related content. “On July 14, 2022, YouTube Government Affairs staff contacted White House personnel to brief them on ‘updates related to addressing reproductive health misinformation on YouTube,’ to which White House staff responded, saying that they were ‘specifically interested in abortion,’” said the report.

Biden officials clearly sought to censor content they perceived as politically damaging to Biden.

The report also shows the White House’s obsession suppressing books that they disagreed with. In March 2021, the Biden White House emailed an Amazon executive “asking to have a discussion regarding the ‘high levels of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation at Amazon.’”

“Internal talking points prepared by Amazon,” says the report, “included the question: ‘Is the [Biden] Admin asking us to remove books, or are they more concerned about search results/order (or both).’”

There are two important takeaways from this report.

One, the Biden administration sought to impose a censorship regime through Big Tech to benefit the president politically.

Two, Congress should act to prevent future government-directed censorship of American speech. There are numerous bills that would address this problem. The House passed the “Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act” last year, legislation that would ban bureaucrats from advocating for censorship of viewpoints. The “Free Speech Protection Act” imposes penalties on bureaucrats who censor speech, and the “Censorship Accountability Act” would allow  Americans to sue bureaucrats who violate their First Amendment rights.

The Biden administration has displayed an appalling amount of contempt for American free speech. Exposing Biden’s censorship-industrial complex is an important first step toward ensuring that unelected bureaucrats do not have a veto over what we say online.

Tom Hebert is Director of Competition and Regulatory Policy at Americans for Tax Reform and executive director of the Open Competition Center.

Continue Reading

Trending

X