UK Deputy Prime Minister Was In Charge Of Secretive Unit Monitoring Covid Dissent

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, led the Counter-Disinformation Unit (CDU), a secretive pandemic-era censorship and surveillance unit. At the time, he was the culture secretary. The CDU started monitoring Covid-realated “misinformation” and “disinformation” in March 2020. Earlier this month, The Telegraph reported that the CDU monitored discussions about criticism of vaccination in children and lockdown policies using various methods including artificial intelligence. The outlet obtained documents showing that the unit monitored content published by Britons, including renown activists and scientists. This week, the government tried to contain the controversy surrounding the CDU. Dowden and other officials met to discuss the issue and insisted that the activities of the CDU were harmless because it monitored information available for free on the internet. The government previously defended the CDU by arguing that it did not report flagged content to social media companies for removal. It also said that it did not report content posted by journalists and members of parliament. However, the CDU has “trusted flagger” status with Facebook and Twitter. The status allows the unit to expedite content complaints. According to The Telegraph, during the pandemic, Dowden and Matt Hancock, the health secretary at the time, met with tech companies to discuss how to combat Covid-related disinformation. Michelle Donelan, who replaced Dowden as culture secretary, tried to get the CDU shut down. She was not comfortable with the fact that the unit was flagging content by British citizens that was neither misinformation or disinformation. According to a person familiar…UK Deputy Prime Minister Was In Charge Of Secretive Unit Monitoring Covid Dissent