Freedom of Information requests by Big Brother Watch revealed that shady Gov’t units, Counter-Disinformation Unit and Rapid Response Unit, monitored dissent during the pandemic on social media platforms. Professor Carl Heneghan, an Oxford epidemiologist, and Dr Alexandre de Figueiredo, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), were spied on.
Criticism to lockdown policies by Conservative MP David Davis and Big Brother Watch director, Silkie Carlo, was also recorded by these units. Ms. Carlo labels this is as a huge example of ‘mission creep’ where a unit set up to monitor misinformation used its powers to police speech by flagging opposing opinions as ‘false’ information.
Ms. Carlo said: “Whilst everyone would expect the Government and tech giants to act against foreign hostile disinformation campaigns, we should be incredibly cautious about these powers being turned inwards to scan, suppress and censor the lawful speech of Brits for wrongthink, as is shockingly the case right now.”