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Americans are quite wary or straight-up angry about the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board under the Department of Homeland Security.

But we must consider and answer the underlying questions: In a globalized cyber world, when does information become a national threat? Can “wrong” information, discussed domestically, ever actually be considered a danger to national security, if malevolence is absent?

Some information has been pried out of the DHS since last week’s announcement. Their stated goal is to monitor disinformation spread by "foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran" and "transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations," and misinformation spread during natural disasters.

I don’t think conservatives or liberals really care about foreign affairs or threats, as we’ve seen most recently with Ukraine. Similarly, liberals only started bothering with Russia because they thought Trump benefited from their supposed cyber manipulations. It doesn’t matter to them that China may be spreading information that hurts America. They actually had the nerve to claim one of their main goals with this board is to stop smugglers from spreading false information which encourages migrants to infiltrate the U.S. Since when did liberals care about stopping illegal immigration at the border?

The goal of this board sounds like a smokescreen to disguise the true battle we all care about: the cold culture civil war. The information that matters most to all of us is what Americans propagate amongst ourselves. When facing such division, I think neither side has answered the question of information security. But liberals are well on their way to defining truth and threats, so we must make our own assessments or risk their approach becoming the rule.

Liberals have little real interest in defining what threatens our country as a whole. After all, they can’t stand the thought of “America first,” and decry any recrimination against China’s involvement in the spread of COVID. They know what’s a threat to themselves, their ideas and their favorite political candidates. But does that translate into a threat to national security?

They claim to focus on foreign threats, but their recent attempts to control information revolve around domestic discussions of COVID and the 2020 election. This board isn’t a new idea. DHS has been tracking cyber information more and more since 9/11. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, began investigating foreign engagement in our elections during Trump’s presidency. As soon as 2020 rolled around, CISA switched their focus to the domestic spread of information, which they viewed as a greater threat to themselves. Even the Governance Board’s new executive director, Nina Jankowicz, is highly partisan in her opinions and has fixated more on internal disagreements than on international threats.

They use the potential foreign threats as an excuse, but in reality, controlling domestic information seems like a larger priority.

Conservatives take foreign threats seriously but generally don’t want to think about them. We want the military, not a yodeling Millennial TikTok star, dealing with cyber threats from abroad. We’re also more concerned with the domestic narrative but may get so paranoid about free speech infringements that we don’t take it seriously when people act, for instance, on bad medical information they find online.

Don’t you know that Google isn’t always right? If you look up why you have a headache, the internet will diagnose you with cancer. Or suggest you pop Tide pods or dunk a bucket of ice water on yourself to cope. There are always going to be fools in the world whose words could lead other foolish individuals to harm themselves.

But conservatives believe people should act with a measure of common sense, which the government can’t and shouldn’t try to instill in us. We don’t want information monitored domestically, even if it’s incorrect.

Though perhaps we need to seriously consider if there is any situation in which we should control information domestically. At the very least, we might need to create a standard for assessing what constitutes a threat online. As far as I’m concerned, the government’s ONLY job is to protect citizens from threats both domestic and foreign. Once we start to see significant harm, we can probably agree we need to take action.

But how? Mayorkas has been so vague about the Disinformation Governance Board’s practical operations.

After being grilled, Mayorkas clarified that the board wouldn’t have any “operational authority or capability.” If they’re not working to control or dispel information, what will they even do?

Can we ever trace tangible harm to specific information? How many people died of COVID because doctors wouldn’t offer alternate treatments? Or because of conspiracy theory treatments? If we can prove over 50K deaths, is it a national threat then?

I admit I think politicians shouldn’t have been able to tell doctors not to offer alternate treatments, but I don’t care as much about the conspiracy theorists. Am I a hypocrite, just as inclined to impose my standards of truth on information as liberals?

The more the internet grows, the more complex these questions become. We have to ask and answer them, or liberals will answer them for us. Conservatives must at least define how to assess information and domestic threats before the liberal Disinformation Governance Board’s process takes root as the default.

Caylah Coffeen is the host of Prayers For Life Radio in Huntsville, and a millennial who speaks up for truth and a future as bright as the stars. Her column appears every Friday in 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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