Leaked documents unveil plans for global censorship with government backing

A whistleblower claims a UK-US private anti-disinformation initiative is turning into a massive censorship project.

A collection of documents surpassing both the Twitter Files and Facebook Files in volume and significance suggests that the governments of at least two countries have been involved in plans for a giant censorship network.

These documents, known as the CTIL Files #1 and leaked by a whistleblower, expose a far-reaching plan for censorship at global scale initiated in 2018.

The whistleblower, who shared these documents with journalists and the platform called Racket, reveals the emergence of the Censorship Industrial Complex as a response to the events surrounding Brexit and the 2016 election of Donald Trump, according to three persons who’ve seen the documents – Michael Shellenberger, a bestselling author, Matt Taibbi, an investigative reporter, and Alex Gutentag, a journalist based in California.

US military contractor Pablo Breuer (left), UK defense researcher Sara-Jayne “SJ” Terp (center), and Chris Krebs, former director of the U.S. Department of Homeland. Credit: Michael Shellenberger

The CTIL, officially an "anti-disinformation" group, initially started as a volunteer project led by data scientists and defense and intelligence veterans. However, its tactics eventually became integrated into various official projects, including some at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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The CTI League documents offer a comprehensive account of the genesis of the "anti-disinformation" sector, now known as the Censorship Industrial Complex, they said on Substack, a platform for authors. 

According to the documents, which are cited on the official website of U.S.

Congress, the group focused on various aspects of public manipulation, ranging from the origins of modern digital censorship programs to the involvement of military and intelligence agencies, partnerships with civil society organizations and commercial media, and the use of tactics like sock puppet accounts. 

A phased plan for introduction of global censorship as detailed in the leaked documents.

One document advises on creating a "spy disguise" to "lock down" digital activities, while another notes that censorship efforts against Americans are conducted through private partners due to legal constraints on the government.

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The whistleblower alleges that a key figure in the CTI League, a former British intelligence analyst, received instructions at the Obama White House in 2017 to establish a counter-disinformation project, aiming to prevent a recurrence of events similar to those in 2016.

Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential elections was a major catalyst for the initiative.

In recent investigations, Public, Racket, congressional investigators, and others have detailed the rise of the Censorship Industrial Complex, a network involving over 100 government agencies and non-governmental organizations collaborating to encourage social media censorship and propagate propaganda against disfavored individuals and narratives.

A screenshot from the team's email correspondence. 

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) plays a central role in this complex, with the National Science Foundation financing the development of censorship tools. Emails from CISA's NGO and social media partners reveal initiatives like the Election Integrity Partnership and the Virality Project, urging major platforms to censor posts by both ordinary citizens and elected officials.

Why the anti-disinformation initiative has derailed into a censorship project and where the idea for mass censorship came from remained unclear until now.

Neither the U.S. nor the U.K. governments have commented on the report.