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"Secretive government units spied on British citizen’s speech." by Laura Dodsworth
"This is a creation of the Soviet system. This is how it worked with the government spying on citizens." – Brian Gerrish, UK Column News
I received the newsletter from Big Brother Watch yesterday which journalist Laura Dodsworth has summarised in relation to her shadow banned book, State of Fear which was published in May 2021.
The following is a reposting of Laura’s Substack article.
By Laura Dodsworth • January 30, 2023
Secretive government units have been monitoring the speech of British citizens and removing content from social media during the Covid-19 pandemic, as I explained in my book, A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, thanks to a new report, we know it was even worse than that.
‘Ministry of Truth - the secretive government units spying on your speech’, from Big Brother Watch, must be read in full. But here are some highlights:
Subject Access Requests (SARs) and Freedom of Information reports (FOIs) confirm that journalists, scientists and MPs were monitored by misinformation units if they were critical of government policy. Including me!
My book launch was mentioned in a Cross Whitehall Weekly Counter Disinformation Report. The book was covered by outlets including the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Daily Mail, The Critic – yet it was the coverage by Kremlin-linked news outlet Russia Today that was picked up by the CDU, pointing to my description of government advisers as ‘unelected psychocrats’. (Proving my point.)
Although the article about my book was flagged in a disinformation report, it turned out that not everyone in Whitehall disliked the book. My SAR revealed two separate internal emailsrecommended the book work to colleagues, describing it as ‘thoroughly researched’ and as ‘succinctly laying bear the Government, programming of – Fear’. Clearly, what the Counter Disinformation Unit views as borderline disinformation is viewed as essential reading by other colleagues in government.
MPs and journalists were featured in ‘vaccine hesitancy reports’ for opposing vaccine passports, even before the scheme was launched and was in consultation.
‘Mark Johnson’s tweet advocated that people sign a petition on the official parliamentary petitions website, where all petitions are vetted and fact-checked before they are published, urging the government not to roll out COVID-19 vaccine passports. At the time of the tweet and the report, scores of MPs held the same view and the government was conducting a consultation on Covid passes - it was not a settled policy to implement them. The petition had over 275,000 signatures on the day the Logically report was dated; 10,000 signatures triggers a government response, and 100,000 signatures leads to a debate in Parliament. Neither the petition nor the tweet discussed the vaccine itself, but focused on the negative human rights implications of vaccine passports. It is inconceivable that any reasonable person could view this as “disinformation” and its inclusion betrays a concerning level of mission creep.’
- ‘Ministry of Truth - the secretive government units spying on your speech’.
Front organisations aimed at minority communities have been set up to spread government propaganda. I revealed historical examples of this in A State of Fear.
This is a sneaky way to push government propaganda at arm’s length. The grassroots organisations which work with the third party agencies have no idea that they are performing de facto government communications.
Celebrities have been paid to promote government messaging. This was revealed in A State of Fear too. In fact, I tried to insert the Cabinet Office’s admission to me about this in two published articles but, both times, this fact was edited out.
Most of the online expression that was dealt with was lawful. It’s vital to understand that these units are not controlling misinformation and disinformation but micro-managing the flow of information which contradicts or criticises government policy. In other words, perfectly legitimate free speech and debate.
A whistleblower has confirmed the involvement of the British Army’s 77th brigade which specialises in psychological operations.
‘During COVID-19, the role of the 77th Brigade was not to work for the country discovering foreign disinformation, but to work for the Conservative government monitoring the British public’s opinion of their controversial COVID-19 response.
‘It seemed to me that the government geared the counter-disinformation operation not to serving and protecting citizens, but to serving their own careers and influence. Worse, this domestic monitoring of citizens online seemed not to be driven by a desire to address the public’s fears and concerns, but to identify levers for compliance with controversial government policies.’
Some of this is not new information. Major Bruce Weston confirmed to me in an interview for A State of Fear that the MOD was approached by a number of departments with MACA requests (military aid to civil authorities) to assist with Covid. He told me that up to June 2020 they had about 3,500 military personal committed to 54 requests, everything from the Covid support force, planners going into local resilience forum, helping local authorities plan their response, supporting the NHS with the delivery of PPE, and mobile testing units, for example in Liverpool.
One of the areas the Cabinet office asked for support was in tackling disinformation. The 77th provided a small team from the information and outreach unit, and supported the Rapid Response Unit.
‘He did tell me that the 77th “have provided a small team from the information and outreach unit, and are supporting the Rapid Response Unit”. I asked how exactly and he retorted that I would “have to ask the Cabinet Office”. But do their policies permit direct engagements with British citizens to attack their views on social media, I wondered? “We are part of the 6th Division of the army,” he said, “and we are bound by policies and frameworks that all parts of the army will work within.”
I approached the Cabinet Office as he suggested and got precisely nowhere.
- A State of Fear.
What is new is that according to the whistleblower who spoke to Big Brother Watch, the 77th were monitoring British citizens who were simply expressing fears, concerns and criticisms of the government.
In a free and democratic country, propaganda and surveillance might be turned on enemy states and terrorists, but not on the population. The justification might be the ‘war footing’ the government placed us on for a virus. The inevitable consequence of seeing the enemy not as a distant country with a red button at a despot’s fingertips. or a terrorist with a suicide vest, but as any citizen playing host to a virus, is to treat that citizen as the enemy. The government treated us all as biohazards, and thus as eligible for surveillance and censorship.
On one hand the government spied upon and censored free speech. And with the other hand it deliberately frightened the population to be compliant.
An anonymous scientific advisor told me that there had been conversations about the use of fear. It was felt that the fear of death could be leveraged to make people follow the rules. While this source was party to confidential conversations, the idea that the government should weaponise our fear is fact: we know that the idea was officially put forward and minuted as part of the SPI-B recommendations. It is the thesis for my book.
Similar tactics were employed in other countries. In Germany, the ‘Panic Papers’ revealed the politicians asked modellers to develop scary scenarios to make people comply with lockdown and talked about using imagers of people gasping for air so that they would be frightened and again comply.
This is deeply sinister.
Now, here in the UK, you have shadowy units embedded in the government which are monitoring not foreign bad actors, but UK citizens, flagging their social media posts, observing them, and asking for posts and accounts to be taken down. The government and social media companies are on first name terms. There is far too much cosiness and compliance between state and Big Tech.
This might explain a curious experience of my own. A State of Fear was available for pre-order on Amazon for several weeks. On Friday 14th May, The Telegraph published an article revealing the devastating exposés extracted from my book, from SPI-B and other government advisors who broke cover to tell me that the use of fear was ‘dystopian’ and ‘totalitarian’. By the following morning the book and my name were no longer searchable on Amazon. For the first four crucial days of the book launch, interested readers could not find my book, or me, on the world’s biggest bookshop.Fantastic interview with Laura Dodsworth. I tried to buy the book on Amazon....nowhere to be found, then someone posted a separate link. Yesterday, paperback £8.15....today £12.09!! Still hidden from the main pages.
This might have been a weird coincidental algorithmic glitch. It might have been foul play, given the evidence that other videos, articles and tweets were also removed. It will probably remain a mystery.
The secretive government units should be disbanded and external auditors should be commissioned to investigate everything they have done. Their work is not in the protection of Britain against enemy agents, but focussed on quelling dissent and operating covert reputational management for the government. This is not a healthy democracy.
If you agree, Big Brother invite you to take action.
Big Brother Watch also published the following video Sunday night with this description:
In a groundbreaking and exclusive interview with Big Brother Watch, a whistleblower from the British Army’s “information warfare machine” told us that the 77th Brigade was “monitoring the UK population” to gauge the public response to Boris Johnson’s policies, which often included reports on people sharing their fears around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find out more at: minitruth.co.uk
Although Big Brother Watch (BBW) has modified the voice of the 77th Brigade member they interviewed, I kept watching their hand gestures and thought that they would likely be fairly easy to identify.
I would also like to point out that BBW has asked people to sign their petition at Change.org. Firstly, the UK Government does not acknowledge Change or other petitions like Avaaz so I personally do not see the point of doing so, unless the list of signatories will be used for other purposes which is highly likely.
Cory Morningstar, an amazing researcher and writer, has previously published articles detailing how such platforms are in reality NGOs which are used to nudge people in desired directions for the usual suspects.
Jay Taber wrote the following in 2012 :
As Cory Morningstar captures The Simulacrum in her multi-part series on the non-profit industrial complex, domesticating the populace is a fait accompli, and the only question remaining is what will happen if and when capitalist activism is seen for what it is. By following the money from aristocratic derivatives to embodiments of false hope like Avaaz, MoveOn, and Change, Morningstar steps through the looking glass to expose how NGOs have become a key tool of global dominance using social media as a means of social manipulation.
When the smoke generated by phony progressives clears, all that is left is an industrial wasteland of false hope and real threats. When the betrayals of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are known, we can finally begin to exercise our responsibilities. Until then, programs like Democracy Now remain little more than adult versions of Sesame Street for the toy Che brigades.
Source at: Wrong Kind of Green
Given that we became aware of the activities of the UK’s 77th Brigade in 2015 with UK Column presenting information about them on their 13th August 2015 news, the foregoing information is not a surprise.
UK Column presented an overview of the Big Brother Watch report at the start of yesterday’s news which I highly recommend watching in full.
This is the diagram created by UK Columm which they have been using to discuss the UK Government’s censorship network for several years:
This is one article written by UK Column Co-Editor, Mike Robinson in April 2020, the first year of corona censorship warfare.
Sunday, 26th April 2020
Last Wednesday, during the daily UK Government Coronavirus livestream, the head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter, bragged:
We’ve been involved with the Cabinet Office Rapid Response Unit, with our 77th Brigade helping to quash rumours from misinformation, but also to counter disinformation. Between three and four thousand of our people have been involved, with around twenty thousand available the whole time at high readiness.
To understand the implications of this statement, we have to go back to 2018, when Carter gave a speech to the Royal United Services Institute.
“In our 77th Brigade,” he said, “... we have got some remarkable talent when it comes to social media, production design, and indeed Arabic poetry. Those sorts of skills we can’t afford to retain in the Regular component but they are the means of us delivering capability in a much more imaginative way than we might have been able to do in the past.”
Previously known as the ‘Security Assistance Group’, 77th Brigade was stood up in 2015 as part of ‘Army 2020’. The Security Assistance Group had been established following the amalgamation of the Media Operations Group, 15 Psychological Operations Group, Security Capacity Building Team, and the Military Stabilisation and Support Group.
77th Brigade is described on their website as being about ‘information and outreach’. But what does that mean? General Carter again:
We also, though, need to continue to improve our ability to fight on this new battlefield, and I think it’s important that we build on the excellent foundation we’ve created for Information Warfare through our 77th Brigade, which is now giving us the capability to compete in the war of narratives at the tactical level. [Emphasis mine]
It is in this context, then, that Carter’s words from last week’s livestream should be viewed. Carter has acknowledged that the British military is waging war on a section of its own population.
A Rapid Response
Carter mentioned working with the Cabinet Office’s ‘Rapid Response Unit’. Established in April 2018 and also known as the 'fake news unit', the Rapid Response Unit was given an initial six months' funding. It brought together a “team of analysts, data scientists and media and digital experts,” armed with cutting-edge software, to “work round the clock to monitor online breaking news stories and social media discussion.”
According to the RRU's head, Alex Aiken:
The unit’s round the clock monitoring service has identified several stories of concern during the pilot, ranging from the chemical weapons attack in Syria to domestic stories relating to the NHS and crime.
For example, following the Syria airstrikes, the unit identified that a number of false narratives from alternative news sources were gaining traction online. These “alt-news” sources are biased and rely on sensationalism rather than facts to pique readers’ interest.
Due to the way that search engine algorithms work, when people searched for information on the strikes, these unreliable sources were appearing above official UK government information. In fact, no government information was appearing on the first 15 pages of Google results. We know that search is an excellent indicator of intention. It can reflect bias in information received from elsewhere.
The unit therefore ensured those using search terms that indicated bias – such as ‘false flag’ – were presented with factual information on the UK’s response. The RRU improved the ranking from below 200 to number 1 within a matter of hours.
The Rapid Response Unit was given permanent funding in February 2019.
Three months following the establishment of the Rapid Response Unit, Theresa May attended the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada.
There she announced the establishment of "a new Rapid Response Mechanism", following Britain's proposal for "a new, more formalised approach to tackling foreign interference across the G7" at the G7 Foreign Minister's meeting the previous month.
The agreement sends "a strong message that interference by Russia and other foreign states would not be tolerated," she said.
“The Rapid Response Mechanism,” she continued, "will support preventative and protective cooperation between G7 countries, as well as post-incident responses", including:
co-ordinated attribution of hostile activity
joint work to assert a common narrative and response
The UK government’s Rapid Response, then, is to create international agreement on a common narrative (via the 'mechanism'), and then wage an information war on its own people to make sure that narrative is protected in the media (via the 'unit').
During Carter’s 2018 RUSI speech, he explained the role of the mainstream press in “setting up a well-informed public debate”. He spoke about “political warfare” being war by other means, and he said that winning that war would require a “fusion” approach.
Here, he is referring to the Fusion Doctrine, which was launched during the Theresa May regime, as part of the 2015 National Security Capability Review.
“Many capabilities,” it said, “that can contribute to national security lie outside traditional national security departments and so we need stronger partnerships across government and with the private and third sectors.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Cabinet Office’s Rapid Response Unit is not only working with the military’s 77th Brigade, but is “leading on the ‘rebuttal of false narratives’ as part of the unit ... [that also] involves the Home Office, DCMS, Number 10 and other agencies."
General Carter said his 77th Brigade is “helping to quash rumours from misinformation, but also to counter disinformation.”
What misinformation and disinformation is 77th Brigade helping to quash? How much of the ‘disinformation’ originates from 77th Brigade in the first place?
Part of 77th Brigade’s role is:
Monitoring and evaluating the information environment within boundaries or operational area
They not only ‘counter’ disinformation, but also watch social media, analysing how disinformation, including their own, spreads; mapping the internet and the networks of people sharing content between each other.
And for that, they have thousands deployed, and tens of thousands in reserve, not only in 77th Brigade directly, but right across government and the third sector.
On Monday, 8 April 2019, the UK's Home Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, jointly released a white paper on what they describe as 'online harms'.
The white paper will lead, they say, to the "first online safety laws of their kind", legally requiring social media companies and "Tech firms" to "protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply."
A twelve week consultation period began in parallel with the launch of the white paper. We would encourage everyone to submit your views.
The release of the white paper was covered by Mike Robinson and Patrick Henningsen on UK Column News:
In parallel with publication of the white paper, the Cabinet Office announced the ‘RESIST’ toolkit, which "enables organisations to develop a strategic counter-disinformation capability."
Also announced was a behaviour change campaign aimed at the public to tackle "disinformation". A pilot campaign, they said, "has launched and aims to increase audience resilience to disinformation, by educating and empowering those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information. The campaign will increase the audience’s ability to spot disinformation by providing them with straightforward advice to help them check whether content is likely to be false or intentionally misleading."
How did we get here? Let's find out…
As Brian Gerrish commented during 30th January 2023 UK Column News:
"This is a creation of the Soviet system. This is how it worked with the government spying on citizens."