At the RSA Conference in San Francisco, the senior Ukrainian official in charge of cyber information security Ilya Vitiuk admitted in an interview with investigative journalist Lee Fang that his department provides information to the FBI on alleged Russian disinformation campaigns on social media. When asked how the SBU determines what might be disinformation, Vitiuk told Fang: “Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not. Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.”
The revelation that Ukraine is working with the FBI to censor social media content has sparked controversy and concern about the implications for freedom of expression and the power dynamics of international politics. The Ukrainian government’s definition of “disinformation” and its collaboration with US agencies to remove content it deems to be linked to Russia raises questions about the role of tech companies in shaping public discourse and the potential for abuse of power.
The collaboration between Ukraine and the FBI seems to be part of a broader effort by the US government to counter Russian influence online. While the motives behind this effort may be well-founded, the lack of transparency and accountability in the process raises concerns about censorship and the erosion of democratic values. It is important to remember that the definition of “disinformation” can be subjective and open to interpretation and that the power to censor content can easily be abused for political gain.
During the RSA Conference panel, the Ukrainian officials thanked private sector allies in the US, including tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and CrowdStrike, a DNC contractor, among others. This fact highlights the role of these companies in shaping the public sphere and their potential to influence political outcomes. Tech companies have become the gatekeepers of information in the digital age, and their actions have the power to shape public opinion and political discourse. The collaboration between governments and tech companies to censor content raises questions about the role of these companies in a democratic society and the extent to which they should be held accountable for their actions.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian government’s approach to determining what constitutes disinformation raises concerns about freedom of expression and the potential for abuse of power. The idea that anything that is against Ukraine should be considered a fake, even if it is not, sets a dangerous precedent for censorship and the suppression of dissenting voices. It is important to remember that the right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and that the ability to express oneself freely and without fear of censorship or persecution is a cornerstone of democracy.
The collaboration between the US and Ukraine on censorship is also concerning given the history of US alleged involvement in promoting regime change in Ukraine. The potential for US involvement in shaping the narrative on social media to influence Ukrainian politics could further undermine the country’s democracy and sovereignty.
Overall, the revelation of Ukraine’s partnership with the FBI and Silicon Valley companies to censor “disinformation” raises questions about the limits of free speech and the potential for foreign governments and companies to shape the online discourse. It is important to scrutinize these partnerships to ensure that they do not undermine free speech or democratic values.
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