The Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology was allegedly established to bring together cross-government monitoring and analysis capabilities.
It is often said that when a government decides what information is to be disseminated to the people, the institution of government is no longer for the people but for its own self-preservation. The 1949 George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) had a fictional Ministry of Truth.
On the 3rd June 2023 The Telegraph published an article Elon Musk joins backlash over secret unit curbing lockdown dissent and states “The billionaire Twitter owner condemned the ‘terrible’ tactics used by the Government during the pandemic, as revealed by the Telegraph”
On the 9th June 2023 The Telegraph published an article Covid disinformation unit made ‘hourly contact’ with tech firms, its leader reveals
In response to this article, Dr John Campbell published his own analysis on his YouTube channel which has 2.8 million followers.
According to The Telegraph on the 10th June 2023 Twitter refused majority of removal requests from Covid spying unit “Figures show that social media firm refused nearly six out of 10 appeals from UK government CDU”
The Daily Sceptic published on the 12th June 2023 an article Secretive Government Unit Broke Own Rules by Flagging Opinions as ‘Disinformation’
Originally Published 12th June 2023 – Last Updated Updated 22th July 2023
Big Brother Watch have launched a campaign against the CDU :-
- Take the first ever legal action in Europe against a government’s ‘counter disinformation’ activity
- Grow pressure in Parliament for an immediate suspension of the CDU and an investigation into its work
- Continue our investigation into extra-judicial government censorship and surveillance activities.
Big Brother Watch have published their report Ministry of Truth: the secretive government units spying on your speech which details their findings.
Misinformation from the Counter Disinformation Unit or an MP ?
There is a discrepancy about when the CDU was actually established. The Cabinet Office and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology published a Fact Sheet on the CDU and RRU on the 9th June 2023.
Is the following evidence of Disinformation by the Counter Disinformation Unit or an MP ? 2019 v 2020 ?
The Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) was first set up within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in 2019 and it has since responded to periods of acute disinformation risk including Covid-19.Fact Sheet on the CDU and RRU
Lucy Powell who is the Labour MP for Manchester South tabled (UIN 98962) the following parliamentary question on the 6th January 2022
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the cross-Whitehall unit to counter disinformation on covid-19 is operating as of 6 January 2022; how many staff working as part of that unit there are in the (a) Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, (b) Home Office (c) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, (d) Cabinet Office and (e) Ministry of Defence; and whether the number of staff in each team has increased or decreased since that unit was established in March 2020.Coronavirus: Disinformation Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Chris Philp who is the Conservative MP for Croydon South replied on the 11th January 2022.
The Cross-Whitehall Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU) was established on 5 March 2020, bringing together cross-government monitoring and analysis capabilities. As of 7 January 2022 the CDU is still fully operational.
Addressing the challenges of disinformation and misinformation is a whole of the government effort. The CDU is resourced full time and works in close partnership with cross-government teams. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the size of the team in DCMS has increased. Requirements are continually reviewed to ensure appropriate levels of resourcing, including surge capacity as needed.
When false narratives are identified, the CDU coordinates departments across Whitehall to deploy the appropriate response. This can include a direct rebuttal on social media, flagging content to platforms and ensuring public health campaigns are promoted through reliable sources.Coronavirus: Disinformation Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
It is no surprise that Chris Philp MP chose to ignore most of the questions that were asked.
Fact Sheet on the CDU and RRU
Counter-Disinformation Unit Fact Sheet
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology published the Counter-Disinformation Unit – open source information collection and analysis: privacy notice on the 16th Match 2023.
RESIST 2 Counter Disinformation Toolkit
The Government Communication Service published the RESIST 2 Counter Disinformation Toolkit sometime in 2021 and updated it on the 11th January 2022.
It is unknown if the Counter Disinformation Unit use this toolkit.
It is however interesting that this was updated on the same day that Chris Philp MP replied to the question tabled by Lucy Powell MP.
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