Earlier this month Canadian federal appointees on an online safety panel pointed to US President Joe Biden’s failed attempt to launch a “Disinformation Governance Board” as an example of a government plan to regulate speech which was toppled by public outcry. 

The “Expert Advisory Group on Online Safety” held a session about so-called “disinformation” on Jun. 3. 

A summary of the meeting – which is under strict secrecy rules prohibiting the identification of speakers – singled out the proposed board as a reason why the government should not be in the business of defining what “disinformation” is in legislation.  

“Most experts expressed extreme caution against defining disinformation in legislation. Experts argued that the very process of defining disinformation in legislation is problematic for a number of reasons,” the summary read.

“Experts pointed to the troubled attempts in the United States to address disinformation through a Disinformation Board as an example of how Government-created definitions of disinformation cannot withstand public scrutiny.” 

The group was assembled by the Liberal government to draft online hate legislation. 

Last month, Biden’s handpicked “disinformation expert” indefinitely paused the US’ disinformation board after facing widespread public backlash. 

“With the Board’s work paused and its future uncertain, I have decided to leave to return to my work in the public sphere. It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the Board became a distraction from the Department’s vital work,” wrote Nina Jankowicz. 

The board was repeatedly likened to the fictional “Ministry of Truth” from the popular dystopian novel by George Orwell “1984.” 

Jankowicz’s own partisan views became central to the debate surrounding the controversial proposal after she stated that verified Twitter users should be allowed to edit other users’ tweets they find misleading and for promoting debunked claims about former president Donald Trump. 

When it was first announced, the Biden administration floated the board as a way to combat foreign disinformation. 

“It was never about censorship or policing speech in any manner. It was designed to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect the homeland, while protecting core Constitutional rights. However, false attacks have become a significant distraction from the Department’s vitally important work to combat disinformation that threatens the safety and security of the American people,” said a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson. 

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