Lazy eyes listen
During the pandemic, the UK Ministry of Defence closely monitored the social media accounts of public figures who were critical of the government’s Covid-19 policies, a whistleblower told the Daily Mail newspaper on Saturday. The claim contradicts the government’s repeated denials of any such surveillance.
According to a source who worked for the military’s secretive 77th Brigade during the pandemic, the unit compiled dossiers on anyone with a sizable following who questioned the lockdowns, mandates, and predictions of doom that characterized London’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Combating “disinformation” and “harmful narratives… from purported experts” was among the unit’s responsibilities, which were aided by raw data scraped from social media by AI and civilian employees. Unwanted stories were suppressed or removed, while government stories were promoted.
“I had the impression the Government were more interested in protecting the success of their policies than uncovering foreign interference,” the whistleblower told the Mail, suggesting that London’s single-minded focus on suppressing criticism may have led them to overlook genuine foreign meddling in the form of Chinese pro-lockdown campaigns.
While the 77th Brigade’s information specialists claim they only target foreign entities with “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as means to adapt adversary behaviors,” the whistleblower claims they cheated their way into surveilling UK citizens by claiming that “unless a profile explicitly stated their real name and nationality they could be a foreign agent and were fair game.” They couldn’t look at a named UK citizen’s account while on the job, so they waited until their shift was over to snoop on people they couldn’t pretend were foreign.
Big Brother Watch (BBW) obtained extensive documentation substantiating the whistleblower’s claims and revealing that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport’s Counter Disinformation Unit and the Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit were also involved in the surveillance of British civilians.
Silkie Carlo, the director of BBW, demanded the immediate dissolution of the Counter Disinformation Unit and a thorough investigation into the materials obtained, describing the government’s work on “countering misinformation” as dangerous to democracy.
According to an anonymous source within 10 Downing Street, the disinformation units have curtailed much of their work since the end of lockdowns.