DHS Freezes Disinformation Governance Board for Close Review; Leader Nina Jankowicz Resigns

2 mins read

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has halted progress on its new investigative committee built to research and identify the circulation of false claims and misleading messages.

Initiated in late April by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a previous Wash100 Award recipient, the Disinformation Governance Board has drawn criticism from lawmakers due to its purported potential for censorship and the limitation of free speech.

Officials from DHS strongly refute objections with the board’s mission or capabilities, saying it “was designed to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect the homeland, while protecting core Constitutional rights,” according to a DHS employee speaking to Axios.

While it is momentarily dormant, the board is subject to review by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an aspect of DHS. The council is slated to examine ways the board can be more transparent about its processes and confirm that it will be protecting First Amendment rights rather than inhibiting them. It will be headed by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick and is expected to last 75 days.

As a result of the board’s temporary closure and what she has determined as an imminent disbanding altogether, Nina Jankowicz has resigned as Disinformation Governance Board leader.

Jankowicz, who has worked extensively analyzing misinformation at various think tanks, reportedly received online pushback after she was tapped by President Biden to assume the post. Those skeptical of the board expressed concern about Jankowicz’s lack of legal experience and her public-facing media presence.

DHS leaders say the board is intended primarily to study and highlight misinformation promoted by bad actors in Russia, who have been accused of spreading false information to the American citizenry, particularly regarding elections.

The Homeland Security Advisory Council will take the next couple of months to decide the board’s future. In the meantime, possible legal action may be taken against the DHS by a coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general who has called for the board’s immediate termination.

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