The Department of Homeland Security terminated a board formed this year to combat online disinformation, after critics said it could stifle free expression on the internet and had an unclear mission. The board encountered widespread criticism from conservatives, civil liberties advocates and some current and former officials, reports the Wall Street Journal. The decision to fold the Disinformation Governance Board followed a recommendation from the Homeland Security Advisory Council, a group of former officials and security experts that provides advice to DHS. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said DHS "will continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law, while upholding the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work.”
The board was formed this spring to counter disinformation deemed a threat to homeland security. Examples cited by DHS officials included misleading information from smugglers to persuade migrants to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia ahead of the midterm elections. Some Republicans in Congress said the board would infringe on free speech, drawing comparisons to George Orwell’s state-sponsored Ministry of Truth propaganda agency in “1984.” Others, including the American Civil Liberties Union, raised concerns, and current and former officials privately said the board had an unclear focus and that the administration had botched its rollout. The board never convened and was suspended in May amid the resignation of its director.