A government watchdog organization is suing the Department of Health and Human Services to gain access to communications between the Centers for Disease Control and major social-media platforms about the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in federal court in Washington centers on restrictions by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube of viewpoints regarding the pandemic, including on the efficacy of treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.
Judicial Watch previously filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the information, but the CDC failed to respond.
“The public has the right to know about CDC’s involvement in Big Tech’s outrageous censorship of Americans, including doctors, who raise questions about the COVID-19 response,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Biden administration should stop stonewalling and release the records about the CDC’s role in suppressing the free speech of Americans.”
The complaint seeks any and all records “of communication between CDC officials and/or employees and employees, agents, and/or representatives of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube concerning, regarding, or relating to COVID-19 related content on company platforms. Such records include, but are not limited to, any advice or instructions issued on disinformation re COVID-19.”
The court filing notes that the CDC acknowledged receipt of the request but has not responded.
“The CDC has failed to: (i) determine whether to comply with the request; (ii) notify plaintiff of any such determination or the reasons therefor; (iii) advised plaintiff of the right to appeal any adverse determination; or (iv) produce the requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt from production,” the filing charges.”
The complaint seeks a court order that HHS search for any and all appropriate records and produce “any and all non-exempt records responsive to plaintiffs’ FOIA request.”
It also seeks an order to stop the agency from continuing to withhold records.
Social media played a large role in censoring information about certain possible coronavirus treatments. For example, multiple platforms removed comments, even from experts in the field, regarding the possible benefits of hydroxychloroquine in the fight against COVID-19.
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