Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) was left stunned by resurfaced comments by a former Department of Homeland Security official leading an effort to use artificial intelligence to target free speech.
During a Tuesday Congressional hearing dealing with the issue of the use of AI in censorship, Bishop reacted forcefully to chilling comments by Brian Murphy, who led the intelligence wing of the DHS during the Trump administration before leaving to become managing director of Logically.AI, a dystopian-like British AI company that arbitrarily polices and flags online content that it deems “misinformation.” Bishop reacted by saying Murphy’s comments in support of censorship troubled him. He described the routine dismissal and partisan bashing of dissent even by members of Congress as “…a grave danger to the society if that’s the way that Congress devolves to.”
WATCH: My full questioning on the alarming intersection between AI and censorship.
— Rep. Dan Bishop (@RepDanBishop) February 6, 2024
According to investigative journalist Lee Fang, who testified before the subcommittee as a witness, Murphy had made the concerning remarks promoting the government’s role in online censorship during an April 4 podcast, in which he lamented the downfall of the Disinformation Governance Board and stressed the need for governments to work with social media companies and other entities to censor speech.
“‘The executive branch is most well equipped to intervene against foreign covert speech proliferating in the homeland,’” Murphy reportedly said in the podcast, according to Bishop’s quoting of the remarks. “‘A lot of what happens in the cognitive warfare space domestically has been transferred over to the social media companies, and you’ll hear politicians on all sides saying that social media companies need to be better policers. I agree with that,’” Murphy’s Orwellian commentary continued.
Bishop zoned in on Murphy’s disturbing justification for giving the government censorship power, which was that such power was necessary for the so-called “security” of the population. “He goes on to say that ‘part of the social contract in a liberal democracy is between the state and the citizens and the executive branch where you give up some of your freedoms so you get security back,’” Bishop continued, quoting Murphy. He then asked Fang: “That troubles me. Is that something that people should be troubled by? And who is he?”
Fang replied, “This is a former Trump official, a former intelligence director at DHS, who created a dossier on journalists and who engaged in inappropriate surveillance of left-wing activists, the very problem we’ve heard discussed at this committee. He’s now at an anti-misinformation AI firm and he’s basically said very openly that the problem with the Disinformation Governance Board was not violating civil liberties or free speech — the problem was that it was too out front, it was too obvious of a political entity.”
According to Fang’s reporting, 22 year-old entrepreneur Lyric Jasin founded Logically.AI — Murphy’s new employer — in response to Brexit, which he erroneously attributed to “lies that pushed the U.K. into voting in favor of Brexit, or leaving the European Union.” Logically.AI has carried through on its founding charter in several ways, but really came into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic when it was gifted with a $400,000 contract by the British government to target “mis/disinformation.” According to Fang, “That money went into far-reaching surveillance that monitored journalists, activists, and lawmakers who criticized pandemic policies.”
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