Nina Jankowicz, the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board, last year endorsed the idea of the government setting minimum speech standards for content online.
Jankowicz commented on the idea during testimony in an online safety hearing in the British Parliament in September 2021.
One British lawmaker asked Jankowicz about her opinion on setting minimum speech standards, such as banning the celebration of misogyny on the internet.
“Yes,” she replied, endorsing the idea, and noted the British Office of Communication (Ofcom) could set the standards.
“For Ofcom to be able to establish the minimum standards that would be applied to all platforms and incur fines would be a useful starting point,” Jankowicz said. “That could be based, again, on the preexisting terms of service.”
She conceded that alternative platforms committed to free speech could be a problem, mocking them for supporting “freedom of expression and fairy dust.”
Jankowicz also endorsed the idea of shadow bans and demoting content.
“[T]his is not only about taking down content. It can be about demoting content too and saying, “You can shout into the black void, but you don’t get a huge audience to do that,” she said.
Demoting content, she explained, “allows us to get around some of the free speech concerns” that would exist surrounding speech controls.
Jankowicz also reminded British lawmakers that they could seize user data from social media companies to assist their censorship efforts.
“The social media platforms can do that if they are compelled to,” she said, adding that “you or Ofcom would need to determine exactly what measures you would like to see and compel the social media platforms to hand over that data.”
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