On Tuesday, Big Brother Watch released documents that showed how the UK military supported Whitehall officials in monitoring the British public via the “Ministry of Truth.”

As well as the British Army’s 77th Brigade, the newly released documents show Royal Air Force (“RAF”) intelligence officers were also employed to spy on British citizens.

The documents show that at the same time, the UK government employed external contractors; one of which is the British not-for-profit Global Disinformation Index which has the goal of disrupting and defunding “disinformation sites.”

In January, Big Brother Watch released a report detailing secretive Whitehall units monitoring government critics’ speech online – including Members of Parliament, academics, journalists, human rights campaigners and the public – under the guise of combatting “misinformation.”  The title of the report was ‘Ministry of Truth: the secretive government units spying on your speech’.

The ‘Ministry of Truth’ report also exposed the Government’s use of the British Army to scan their own citizens’ speech online, with exclusive testimony from a whistle-blower who worked in the “secretive information warfare machine”, the 77th Brigade.

Read more: 77th Brigade Exposed: The Secretive UK Military Unit spying on YOU if you can see through the lies, The Exposé, 31 January 2023

The documents released on Tuesday consist of emails and daily “Mis/Disinformation” reports produced by the 77th Brigade for the Cabinet Office.  They show soldiers tracking narratives from Members of the UK Parliament and the corporate press.  Big Brother Watch has requested months’ worth of these documents but “only a handful appear to have survived,” they said.

Other documents released on Tuesday consist of requests for military assistance from the Counter Disinformation Unit (“CDU”). These requests are called Military Aid to Civilian Authority (“MACA”) requests.  At the time, the CDU was part of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

According to the UK government website, the CDU was first set up in 2019 within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”).  However, according to The Constitution Unit, based in the University College London Department of Political Science, the CDU was set up in March 2020.

In July 2019, the Defending Democracy programme was announced as a cross-Whitehall initiative bringing together civil society, intelligence and government departments. The programme covers electoral integrity and related online transparency issues.  As part of this programme, The Constitution Unit wrote, the Counter Disinformation Cell (“CDC”) or Counter Disinformation Unit (“CDU”) was set up in March 2020 to deal with coronavirus-related “false narratives.”

The CDU is one of a four-pronged government strategy for tackling covid “misinformation.”  The other three prongs are the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office, established in 2018; pursuing a massive public information campaign together with the NHS; and, promoting digital literacy skills, publicising its SHARE checklist.

From February 2023, the unit sits with the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.  According to the UK government’s website: “The team works with partners across government, civil society and in tandem with the regulatory approach through the Online Safety Bill and DSIT’s Media Literacy Strategy.”

The UK government states that CDU’s purpose is to understand disinformation narratives and attempts to artificially manipulate the information environment, “to promote the facts.”  CDU also works with social media companies to “encourage them to promote authoritative sources of information and consistently enforce their terms of service.”

Big Brother Watch has received copies of four MACAs from CDU to the UK military covering the period 5 July 2020 to  28 February 2021.  Before that, on 23 March 2020, defence analysts joined the CDC or CDU wider structure as part of a wider MACA tasking which attached them to the Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit. This team provided mis/disinformation analytical capability during the first three months of the “covid crisis.”  This initial agreement with the Cabinet Office ended on 5 July 2020.

From the first MACA request, for the period 15 July to 31 August 2020, the first sentence completed on the form stated that the CDU sought “military support to the DCMS Counter-Disinformation Cell (CDC), to ensure [Her/His Majesty’s Government] HMG coverage of the mis/disinformation threat and information environment, as further incidences of disinformation is anticipated in relation to key events, including the launch of a vaccine.”  Signed by the Ministry of Defence on 15 July 2020, this was almost five months before a covid “vaccine” was launched.

The DCMS re-emphasised the anti-vaccination “threat” again later in the July 2020 MACA: “Despite Covid-19 crisis response standing down in some areas, the CDC continues to identify harmful misinformation and disinformation narratives. This is a live threat, and the CDC’s assessment of future trends such as potential for anti-vaccination narratives, shows that there is a need to fill a capability gap.”

The MACAs state that the Ministry of Defence provided 77th Brigade analysts from 5 July to 3 August 2020, and RAF analysts from 3 August to 31 August 2020.

Further reading: RAF intelligence officers joined Whitehall and Army in ‘spying’ on Covid lockdown critics – including David Davis and Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 10 December 2023

The MACAs, from the first to the last, also state that external contractors have already been employed and will continue to provide additional skills. “DCMS has contracts with GDI, who monitor and assess disinformation narratives on fringe platforms, and Digitalis, who work with search trends data,” the MACAs state.

Global Disinformation Index

GDI stands for Global Disinformation Index, a UK not-for-profit organisation which rates media sites based on the risk of the outlet carrying disinformation. It is number 37 on the list of the top 50 organisations in the global Censorship Industrial Complex.

Using both artificial intelligence and human review, GDI claims to “provide a neutral and transparent way of assessing the disinformation risk for a specific media outlet.”

GDI was co-founded by Clare Melford and Daniel Rogers in 2018. Melford was formerly CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum, managing director of MTV Networks, and led the European Council on Foreign Relations during its break away from the Open Society Foundations. Rogers founded and led Terbium Labs, a US intelligence community contractor, works as an adjunct Professor at New York University’s Centre for Global Affairs, and is a senior fellow at the left-leaning Truman National Security Project.

With a virtual team of 15 people, GDI’s goal is to “disrupt, defund and down-rank disinformation sites.”  As always, we must ask who defines what constitutes “disinformation.”  To answer that question, establishing who funds GDI is a good place to start.

Information about the GDI’s funding is not readily accessible despite it having ‘transparency’ as one of its three core values, but it does at least name its funders on its website. GDI has 12 funders including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the European Union, the Foreign Ministry of Germany, the Knight Foundation and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (“FCDO”).

“No single funder accounts for more than one third of GDI’s total income,” its website states.  This implies that it is likely at least one funder contributes about a third of its funding.

In February 2023, Philip Davies, Member of Parliament for Shipley, submitted a written question asking how much funding the FCDO had given GDI over the previous three years.

Leo Docherty, Under Secretary of State at FCDO replied: “The FCDO Counter Disinformation and Media Development Programme has funded the Global Disinformation Index since 2019, for activities outside the US, providing £1,999,026 between 2019 and 2022, with a further £600,797 during the current financial year.”

David McGrogan who authored an article about GDI which was published by Brownstone Institute, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and ascertained that FCDO gave GDI £400,000 during the financial year 2018-2019.

A quick search on GDI’s website for reports relating to UK media returned no results however McGrogan found a report dated August 2021 titled ‘Popular UK Brands Appearing Next To Misogynistic Narratives’.

McGrogan wrote: “My favourite example, from this ‘report’ – I use the term loosely – is an article on Spiked! titled ‘Why aren’t we celebrating female athletes’ actual achievements?’ next to an ad for the UK-based chain of opticians, Specsavers. This is apparently evidence of a ‘misogynistic narrative’ which Specsavers should not be indirectly funding.”

British magazine Spiked! is generally agreed to be libertarian. According to Wikipedia, most specialist academic sources identify it as right-libertarian but some non-specialist sources identify it as left-libertarian.  Wikipedia lists the Knight Foundation as one of Spiked’s funders.  After being flagged as carrying a “misogynistic narrative,” perhaps it no longer funds Spiked, especially as the Knight Foundation is also listed as one of GDI’s funders.

GDI has two affiliated US non-profit groups sharing similar board members: Disinformation Index and An Foundation, both based in Texas. A Washington Examiner investigation found that advertising crushing revenue sentinels such as GDI are crippling conservative media in the United States as “riskiest” and “worst” offenders for peddling disinformation, and likely placing them on a “dynamic exclusion list” while all of the websites that GDI ranks as the “least risky” lean to the political left in their news coverage.

GDI’s secretive “dynamic exclusion list” shows at least 2,000 websites.  This list has “had a significant impact on the advertising revenue that has gone to those sites,” Melford said during a March 2022 podcast.

This exclusion list is developed with oversight from GDI’s “advisory panel,” which counts journalists, professors, and data scientists, according to GDI reports. One of the advisors is Ben Nimmo, global lead for threat intelligence at Facebook’s parent company Meta.

Mike  Benz, who was formerly the State Department’s deputy assistant for internal communications and information policy and is currently executive director of Foundation for Freedom Online, a censorship watchdog, told the Washington Examiner that the “whole point” of the “disinformation” tracking industry is clearly to destroy “the reach, scalability, market, and even credibility” of conservative news outlets.

Self-styled disinformation trackers such as GDI are, essentially, censorship by stealth because they cripple the potential of alternative news sources to compete on an even economic playing field with media outlets that disseminate the approved narrative.

Source: https://expose-news.com/2023/12/17/uk-government-funds-and-employs-a-charity-which-aims-to-disrupt-and-defund-disinformation-media-outlets-globally/

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