Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and one that all citizens should have the ability to exercise without interference from government entities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. To ensure that our freedoms are protected, organizations like Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) are actively utilizing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to uncover potential constitutional violations when it comes to freedom of speech. Let’s take a closer look at how AFPF is defending our right to free speech.
In April 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to create a Disinformation Governance Board to “prevent and respond to emerging threats posed by foreign governments, criminal organizations, and other malicious actors who use digital platforms and online disinformation campaigns to target the United States or its allies.” While this may sound like a noble goal, it raises serious concerns about freedom of speech within the US as DHS has declined to provide any specifics about how this board will operate or what criteria it would use in determining what constitutes “disinformation.”
In response to these concerns, AFPF submitted a FOIA request in May 2021 asking DHS for more information on its proposed Disinformation Governance Board, including details about its structure and membership. To date, DHS did not release any documents in response to this request nor has it provided any explanation as to why it is withholding them. As such, AFPF argued that by not providing any information the agency is violating its obligations under federal law as well as potentially violating individuals’ constitutional rights when it comes to freedom of speech.
As citizens of the United States, we must remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our freedoms—including our right to free speech. Organizations like AFPF are doing their part by utilizing FOIA requests to uncover potential constitutional violations related to freedom of speech so that they can be addressed before they become an issue. At a time when misinformation circulates freely on digital platforms and disinformation campaigns threaten our democracy itself, defending free speech rights should be everyone’s goal.
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