The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went back to its roots Monday, condemning the government for working with Big Tech to censor certain topics and calling it a betrayal of constitutional rights.
“The First Amendment bars the government from deciding for us what is true or false, online or anywhere. Our government can’t use private pressure to get around our constitutional rights,” the ACLU tweeted from its official account.
Along with the tweet, the ACLU linked to an explosive report by The Intercept, which broke the news on how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was working with tech companies to restrict speech on a variety of major political topics through policing “disinformation.”
The Intercept reported, “According to a draft copy of DHS’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, DHS’s capstone report outlining the department’s strategy and priorities in the coming years, the department plans to target ‘inaccurate information’ on a wide range of topics, including ‘the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.’”
The report also noted that “prior to the 2020 election, tech companies including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, Wikipedia, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Verizon Media met on a monthly basis with the FBI, CISA, and other government representatives.”
Fighting government influence over the private sector’s determination of misinformation to censor fits the ACLU’s traditional purview, but the organization has been criticized in recent years for not living up to its ideal as a nonpartisan defender of Americans’ civil rights, especially free speech.
Former ACLU head Ira Glasser condemned the state of the organization on a January episode of “Real Time” with Bill Maher. Glasser lamented, “This is a requirement now for the national ACLU employers, that before they take a case defending someone’s free speech they have to make sure that the speech doesn’t offend or threaten other civil liberties values.”
He explained that by contrast, in the organization’s nobler days, “Actually, most of the speech we defended didn’t reflect our values,” Glasser noted. “That’s the point.”
In 2021, the organization defended vaccine mandates for making society safer for “the most vulnerable,” suggesting that enforcing mandates is a way to “further” civil liberties.
They’ve also been active in virtue signaling on abortion and transgender issues.
But now that the organization has criticized the government’s censorship of free speech as outlined by The Intercept, many Twitter users were pleased the organization was again defending civil liberties.
“Their account appear to have been hacked by its past self,” radio host Derek Hunter tweeted.
Columnist Eddie Zipperer wrote, “I had no idea there was anyone at the ACLU who still cared about constitutional rights.”
DeSantis campaign Rapid Response Director Christina Pushaw commented “Pleasantly surprised to see this.”
“Thanks @ACLU – glad to see you advocating for actual civil liberties violations rather than partisan policies,” commentator Curtis Gardner tweeted.
The DHS’ controversial role in America’s political dialogue has become a major issue in the past year.
In the spring, the Biden administration rolled out the Disinformation Governance Board, which many commentators compared to George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth.”
Part of what destroyed the Board’s reputation in the public eye was that its director Nina Jankowicz had peddled biased misinformation herself, such as casting doubt on the Hunter Biden laptop revelations and the Wuhan lab leak theory.
Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.