UK Defense Secretary investigates 77th Brigade surveillance of COVID lockdown critics

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said claims that the British Army’s information warfare unit, the 77th Brigade, was monitoring lockdown critics on social media platforms.

On January 30th, in light of a new report from civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, the UK government admitted to monitoring lockdown critics on social media platforms during COVID via its disinformation unit. has denied targeting individuals.

About that “Ministry of Truth” report (pdf)Big Brother Watch has cooperated with people in public life who have filed numerous Freedom of Information requests and demanded copies of data held by government disinformation units.

According to the report, monitoring and reporting of critics was under the Anti-Disinformation Division of the Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCMS).

Big Brother Watch also disclosed the whistleblower’s testimony, claiming it was confirmed that the 77th Brigade collected posts on Twitter from British citizens who posted about COVID-19 and passed them on to the government. The Epoch Times has not been able to confirm these claims or the identities of the whistleblowers.

Epoch Times photo
Former Secretary of State David Davis in charge of Brexit from the European Union at a press conference in London on January 15, 2019. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Watched by David Davis

In a speech at the Commons on January 30, former Conservative minister David Davis, who was being monitored by Big Brother Watch, called for the issue to be revisited, and Wallace said he had already instructed it to be done. guaranteed. into.

“I know him well, and he was telling the exact truth when he told us that he had given the brigade clear instructions and guidelines to operate only against foreign forces and extremists.

“But does he review the matter and make sure his guidelines are followed in all cases?”

Wallace replied that the brigade “should not be involved in regulating, policing or reporting opinions with which it may or may not agree.”

“A colleague may have read a report this weekend about the activities undertaken by the 77th Brigade’s Army Disinformation Unit,” he said.

“Online disinformation by foreign actors is a serious threat to the UK, which is why we have drawn on expertise from across government to monitor COVID disinformation during the pandemic.

“The 77th Brigade is a mixed regular and reservist force established in 2015. We provide informational activities.

“We use publicly available data, such as materials shared on social media platforms, to assess trends in misinformation in the UK.”


Big Brother Watch reports that the British Army’s 77th Unit, which has conducted operations against both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, collated Twitter posts from British citizens about COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic and forwarded them to the Cabinet Office. claimed to have passed This he understood to be finished by late 2021.

During COVID-19, the government used various units including the Rapid Response Unit, Counter Disinformation Unit (CDU), and Government Information Cell. Each had a role in “tackling harmful narratives online,” monitoring and flagging “disinformation” content on social media companies, and pushing official lines, according to the report.

According to the report, monitoring and reporting of critics was under the Anti-Disinformation Division of the Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCMS).

The report included Lockdown Skeptic founder Toby Young, talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley Brewer and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens as those who caught the CDU’s attention.

“Something is rotten”

The report was published by author Laura Dosworth in the June 2021 Cross Whitehall Weekly Counter Disinformation Report about the launch of her book A State of Fear: How the UK Government Weaponized Fear During the COVID-19 Pandemic. I pointed out what you were referring to.

Dosworth told The Epoch Times in an email that she believed the report “confirmed some of the findings published in her book with anonymous sources.”

“Something is rotten with surveillance equipment directed at innocent civilians,” she said.

“In a free and democratic country, propaganda and surveillance may be directed against enemy states and terrorists, but not against the public. It may be system. ”

A government spokesman said:[they] We did not target individuals or take actions that could affect their ability to discuss and discuss issues freely. ”

PA Media contributed to this report.