Counter Disinformation Unit

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered on 14 November 2023.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, what assessment she has made of the (a) adequacy of the work of the Counter Disinformation Unit and (b) impact of that work on freedom of speech.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU), now called the National Security Online Information Team (NSOIT), is focused exclusively on risks to national security and public safety.

Preserving freedom of expression is an extremely important principle underpinning the team’s work. The Government believes that people must be allowed to discuss and debate issues freely.

The NSOIT does not monitor the social media accounts of individuals and does not take any action that could impact anyone’s ability to discuss and debate issues freely. When the NSOIT identifies content which is within one of the areas of focus ministers have agreed, is assessed to pose a risk to national security or public safety and which is assessed to breach the terms and conditions of the relevant platform it may share that content with the platform. No action is mandated by the Government, it is entirely up to the platform to determine whether or not to take any action in line with their terms of service. Under no circumstances is content from Parliamentarians or journalists ever referred to platforms. Ministers continue to keep the work of the NSOIT under review and the approach to sharing any content with platforms.

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