Britain’s Secret Censorship Board Snubbed by U.S. Tech Giants

( – A secretive media censorship board in England has been trying to gain the cooperation of American Big Tech to help prevent the spreading of state secrets and other information across all major social media platforms, but Silicon Valley isn’t interested in playing along.

The Defense and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) is a committee run by retired British military officers. Some of its members include the biggest media companies in the UK, such as the BBC, the Times, and Sky. The committee’s job is to issue DSMA notices, also known as “D-noticed,” to media companies. These notices are official government requests for those outlets to withhold details that could potentially undermine British national security, either by revealing sensitive details about intelligence personnel or by sharing details regarding clandestine operations overseas.

The letters are not legally binding orders, and the publications must voluntarily keep the requested details out of their reports. Despite the notice not being a requirement to adhere to, companies rarely refuse to comply with the requests, and there could be potential legal risks under the UK’s National Security Act and Official Secrets Act which does add some pressure to “D-notices.”

As the online landscape continues to grow, and social media dominates the political and social discourse, the committee is now looking to find a way to apply these requests to Big Tech giants like X, Meta, and Google. Geoffrey Dodds, notice secretary for the DSMA, said the committee has “been trying to break into the… tech giants” and has reached out to Google, Meta, and other social media companies.

Currently, governments can only request such platforms to take down any content that violates local laws or the platform’s code of conduct. Dodds is suggesting that they at least monitor for content pertaining to their notices and seek the committee’s advice. The only Silicon Valley company to ever work with the DSMA Committee was Google, but they left after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations.

Dodds said the Big Tech companies “won’t have anything to do with [the DSMA] for their own reasons.” Some of those reasons may have to do with the increased scrutiny from the public about too-close relationships between social media platforms and governments after the revelations that these companies helped suppress information during the 2020 US presidential election and the pandemic.

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