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US tech giants refuse to work with Britain’s top secret military censorship board

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Over the past several years, its scope has grown to include cyber incidents — such as when an MoD supplier was hit by a ransomware attack, certain details of which were successfully kept out of the press — as well as counter-terrorism policing and leaks.

Committee members also worriedly discussed misinformation around the Russia-Ukraine war at a meeting on May 12, 2022. “[The chairman] acknowledged that information warfare did not fall within the strict scope of the Committee’s remit but said he could not think of a better forum where it might be meaningfully discussed [sic],” read the minutes.

Members acknowledged the DSMA committee neither could, nor should, deal with misinformation. “Nevertheless it was concluded that there might be scope for a better method allowing for government and media sides to collaborate in advance in order to prick the bubble of ostensible lies told with malicious intent.”

As the committee attempts to modernize, the minutes — which until recently bore Dodds’ signature in the Comic Sans typeface — also reveal internal agonizing over the group’s lack of diversity. A survey found the committee was overwhelmingly “pale and male” and half of participants had attended a private school. But half of them had secured bursaries or grants to do so, indicating the group “was more diverse than might at first appear.”

The national debate on diversity “had moved into an emotive space,” warned the second deputy secretary, retired lieutenant commander Stephen Dudley, in a meeting in April 2023. He advised the committee to stay away from “increasingly vituperative exchanges” on “colonialism and identity.”

Regardless of the tech firms’ lack of cooperation to date, the committee remains steadfast in its aims.

As the media landscape evolves, “there’s probably going to be less print, just as much broadcasting, and a continued increase in social media and online [news],” said Dodds. 

“So we need to get into this game.”

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