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Bill Barr and the White House plan to collect information on social media users when Trump signs Executive Order: reports

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A draft of President Donald Trump’s social media executive order shows it would create disturbing structures that could allow the President of the United States to personally target social media companies he feels are taking action against his supporters, enable his supporters to report that action directly to the White House, and empower the Attorney General of the United States to collect publicly available “watch-lists” of social media users that monitor not only their online activities but their offline activities as well.

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The draft is not final, but both the speed with which it will be signed and reports show it likely has not gone through interagency review, as CNN’s Brian Fung, who calls it “hastily conceived,” notes.

Reuters has confirmed a draft of the executive order, which President Trump has promised he will sign today. They report it “requires the Attorney General to establish a working group including state attorneys general that will examine the enforcement of state laws that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts.”

The order directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy to turn back on the White House Tech Bias Reporting Tool, which the Trump administration created in 2019. It is currently dormant. The tool would be used to collect complaints of what social media users feel is online censorship by tech companies. Those complaints would be submitted by the White House to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

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The White House Office of Digital Strategy was not designed for that purpose. It was created for the sole purpose of crafting and promoting the President’s agenda online, not for acting as a conduit to enable spying. The Office of Digital Strategy is headed by a former Heritage Foundation employee.

Reuters also reports Barr is to create “working group” that “will also monitor or create watch-lists of users based on their interactions with content or other users.” That reporting appears to be inaccurate, based on NCRM’s reading, and reporting by other outlets.

NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward reports the draft “directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy to collect publicly available information regarding ‘watch-lists’ of users based on their interaction with content or users’ and ‘monitoring users based on their activity off the platform.'”

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An ABC News report appears to confirm that reading.

But Barr would be directed to create the group, which would include hand-picked state attorneys general.

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The mere existence of any such lists, whether or not they are created by Barr or identified by the DOJ, can easily be politicized.

Stanford Cyber Policy Center’s Platform Regulation Director says this is a copy of the draft. She has annotated it as well:

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Trump keeps trying to turn the page on coronavirus — but even his allies won’t let him move on

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President Donald Trump desperately wants to turn the page on the coronavirus pandemic that's killed more than 138,000 in the U.S. and threatens to sink his re-election -- but even his staunchest allies won't let him move on.

A growing number of Trump's reliable allies are undermining White House talking points on the deadly pandemic that's rapidly spreading across the South and West, and Republicans are joining the calls for more testing and other measures the president opposes, reported Politico.

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Marco Rubio is advocating gatherings of no more than 10 people just ahead of GOP convention in Florida

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The Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida is a little over one month away, and one of Florida's GOP senators seems to support canceling.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) launched a "coronavirus" section of his official U.S. Senate account where he advocated people wearing masks, staying socially distant, and people gathering in groups of no more than 10.

"Practice social distancing. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, and steer clear of bars, restaurants, and other areas where large numbers of people congregate," his site says.

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Activism

‘We don’t have a Dr. Fauci problem’: Lindsey Graham defends top scientist after White House smears

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) this week defended the federal government's top infectious disease expert after President Donald Trump and the White House put out statements defaming him.

At a press event on Tuesday, Graham was asked about the attempts to smear Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The Republican senator praised Fauci as "one of the smartest people I know."

"Has he been right all the time? No," Graham said. "We don't have a Dr. Fauci problem. We need to be focusing on doing things to get us where we need to go. So, I have all the respect in the world for Dr. Fauci."

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