Nina Jankowicz, the newly-appointed head of the Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board, told Congress in October 2020 that she saw no role for the federal government in policing disinformation online.
“I do not think government should be in that business,” she said during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
Jankowicz, who has since argued for a strong government role in pushing back against “disinformation,” was questioned by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), who said that his experience growing up in tyrannical countries in Latin America had made him “violently allergic” to governments that claimed to be regulating the flow of information.
“We start going down that path, and we are not just ‘breaking democracy,’ we are breaking classical, enlightened liberalism,” he said. He added that he believed that it was “pretty lame” that government appeared to be outsourcing the effort to deal with disinformation to Silicon Valley tech companies.
Himes also challenged Jankowicz: “I actually want to see the evidence that people are seeing this information, and are in a meaningful way, in a material way, dismantling our democracy through violence or through political organizations.”
He also noted that there were also examples of Democrats using “disinformation,” such as then-President Barack Obama “that if they wanted to keep their private insurance plan, they could do it. That turned out not to be true.” He asked whether social media companies should therefore pursue the former president as well for breaking his promise to the voters.
Jankowicz replied: “I totally understand your aversion to the idea that government would fight back against disinformation, in fact — the use of that term has been basically the foundation to some very draconian fake news laws in places like Russia, or even Singapore. I do not think government should be in that business, either.”