GOP Sens. Rubio, Cruz warn Biden is running covert censorship operation

A group of seven Republican senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday claiming that his administration is running a covert operation to censor unfavorable news stories and demanding information about the efforts.

The senators were U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“We write to express our grave concern regarding recent reports of actions taken by your administration to collude with social media platforms to censor Americans’ speech under the guise of ‘misinformation, disinformation, and malformation,'” the letter began.

“Your administration has actively pursued an end-run around of the First Amendment in a coordinated effort that has culminated in social media platforms censoring Americans’ speech at the request of the government and through backdoor channels, without regard for Americans’ civil liberties,” it continued. “It is not, and should not be, the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or any government agency, to be the final arbiters of what speech can be deemed true or acceptable.”

Driven underground

Rubio and Cruz previously called for Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board to be disbanded, and it was disbanded after only a few months due to public pressure.

But the letter contends that the administration has continued to collude with social media to censor stories they don’t like under the guise of calling it “misinformation” and the like.

“Instead of heeding extensive criticism of the board, it appears efforts to censor Americans’ speech have only been driven further underground, where the censorship campaign has continued free from public scrutiny and without transparency,” the letter contended.

The letter referred to a Facebook portal created to allow U.S. officials to submit material it wanted censored so the company could act on the requests.

“Dangerous precedent”

In October, the Intercept reported that the Department of Homeland Security was becoming more involved in efforts to censor what it called disinformation as its “war on terror” mandate was concluding.

The Office of Digital Engagement under the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has become another avenue for censorship as social media has looked to it to determine whether information and news about conditions on the U.S. border are “accurate.”

In the letter, the senators demanded transparency from Biden and his officials about their efforts to censor information.

“When the federal government colludes with social media platforms behind closed doors to censor Americans’ speech, it sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be easily undone,” they wrote. “Without transparency, authoritarians masquerading as elected officials will continue their campaign of pressuring social media platforms to censor content that is not government approved, chilling free speech and causing irreparable damage to democratic institutions in the process.”