Republican Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt called on a top cybersecurity official to resign Wednesday following a preliminary injunction preventing government coordination with social media platforms to censor protected speech.
Schmitt urged the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Jennifer Easterly to step down in an interview with journalist Michael Shellenberger on Wednesday. A federal judge had issued an injunction Tuesday preventing the Biden administration from coordinating with social media companies to censor content after finding that officials likely violated the First Amendment.
In the case which prompted the injunction, Missouri v. Biden, plaintiffs had alleged that CISA, and specifically Easterly in her prominent position, played a central role in the Biden administration’s censorship scheme. Schmitt, during his time as Missouri Attorney General, initiated the lawsuit against the Biden administration.
“Jennifer Easterly ought to resign,” Schmitt said, adding, “no doubt about that. And I think that the people getting swept up in this now, who were engaged in it, they ought to be exposed, and there ought to be consequences.”
During the 2020 election, CISA facilitated “switchboards” that allowed state and local election officials to flag so-called misinformation, which would then be removed by social media platforms. A House Judiciary Committee report found the agency also used private surrogates to censor speech during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Center for Internet Security (CIS), a nonprofit that advocates solutions to help safeguard against online threats, collaborated with election officials and CISA on a “portal” to flag and censor social media “misinformation” during the 2020 general election, according to a CIS report independent journalist Lee Fang obtained in June.
Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry A. Doughty granted the injunction after finding plaintiffs in the free speech lawsuit Missouri v. Biden, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, had presented “evidence of a massive effort by Defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.” (RELATED: CNN Legal Analyst Says New Ruling Limiting Biden Admin From Censoring Free Speech Is ‘Dramatic’ )
This is a huge victory, but Congress must go further.
1. It must defund and dismantle the censorship industry
2. It must demand Big Tech transparency
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) July 6, 2023
The Tuesday injunction barred federal officials, including individuals in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from engaging with social media platforms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”
“The level of coordination between senior government officials and senior social media executives is astounding,” Schmitt stated in the interview. “There were direct text messages from the surgeon general of the United States to senior Facebook officials saying, ‘Take this down.’ It’s just un-American.”
President Joe Biden’s administration appealed the injunction on Wednesday.
CISA, DHS and Easterly did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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