By Dave Van Zandt
Consortium News has initiated a legal case against NewsGuard Technologies and the U.S. government, citing First Amendment violations and defamation. The lawsuit is based on a contract awarded to NewsGuard by the Department of Defense (DOD) for its “Misinformation Fingerprints” program.
Valued at $749,387, the contract directs NewsGuard to identify media organizations that publish known hoaxes, falsehoods, and misinformation narratives that are spreading online.
In the course of its contract with the Pentagon, NewsGuard is “acting jointly or in concert with the United States to coerce news organizations to alter viewpoints” as to Ukraine, Russia, and Syria, imposing a form of “censorship and repression of views” that differ or dissent from policies of the United States and its allies, the complaint says.
In addition, NewsGuard has confirmed its collaboration with Cyber Command, a component of the U.S. Intelligence Community. This was revealed in an email from NewsGuard’s co-founder, Gordon Crovitz, dated March 10, 2023. In the email, he states:
“[A]s is public, our work for the Pentagon’s Cyber Command is focused on the identification and analysis of information operations targeting the US and its allies conducted by hostile governments, including Russia and China. Our analysts alert officials in the US and in other democracies, including Ukraine, about new false narratives targeting America and its allies, and we provide an understanding of how this disinformation spreads online. We are proud of our work countering Russian and Chinese disinformation on behalf of Western democracies.”
The complaint seeks a permanent injunction declaring the joint program unconstitutional, barring the government and NewsGuard from continuing such practices, and more than $13 million in damages for defamation and civil rights violations.
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