As is becoming par for the course in 2016 political discourse, cyber-security has become the new front for terrorism, with the U.S. people handing over total control to the government in search of safety.
Using the fear of cyber attacks from foreign nations, President Obama and others have been working this past week to sign into law an act which claims to counter propaganda in the name of national security, handing the power of truth-telling to government entities.
On Friday, while most of the world was looking elsewhere, President Obama signed H.R. 5181 into law, an act which purports to allow the continued curtailing of the freedom of the press in exchange for cyber security – but which could do far worse.
The Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act of 2016 was proposed in June of this year and was signed by the President on Friday. The act seeks a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions” in defense against “foreign disinformation and manipulation,” to maintain the world’s “security and stability.”
The act allows various government agencies to form a coalition to pursue and identify foreign nations who attempt to interfere with American technology through hacking or cyber attacks. Once located, the government will then attempt to inform the public and share the “real” truth – whatever that is.
Under this act, the Secretary of State would join with the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to form a special coalition to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response,” which would then attempt to influence the public away from these foreign attack narratives with a “fact-based response.”
Considering that we would simply have to rely on the word of these entities in order to know if something is true or not, you can easily see the conflict here. We can’t trust our government to tell us the truth about nuclear weapons in Iraq or run our DMV, but we want to hand over the keys to the propaganda machine to those same officials?
How long is it before this same coalition is used by President Trump to go after legitimate news organizations who are critical of him? It is astounding that on the eve of our democracy’s end, President Obama has handed Trump the golden egg he needs to attack our free press and spread government-sanctioned propaganda.
This is a dangerous precedent, and one that will likely not stop at just identifying the sources of so-called “fake news.” Next, our wonderful PEOTUS will announce a program to prosecute anyone who creates or shares fake news – and guess who gets to decide what is true and what is false?