Judicial Watch Sues Health and Human Services for Surgeon General Office Contact with Big Tech about COVID Vaccines
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for communications and records of the Surgeon General’s Communications Director’s contact with social media companies regarding COVID-19 vaccines (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(No. 1:23-cv-00113)).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after HHS failed to respond adequately to a March 3, 2022, FOIA request for:
All records, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, texts, memoranda, and handwritten notes, of, regarding, referring, or relating to any efforts of Alexandria Phillips, Communications Director, Office of the Surgeon General, to contact any employee of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest concerning COVID-19 vaccines.
In 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a report titled “Confronting Health Misinformation” to “slow the spread of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” which called for censorship of speech about the vaccines and other COVID controversies:
Prioritize early detection of misinformation “super-spreaders” and repeat offenders. Impose clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies.
On March 3, 2022, Murthy demanded that the tech companies turn over information about individuals who spread COVID-19 misinformation:
In a formal notice, Murthy requested major tech platforms submit information about the prevalence and scale of COVID-19 misinformation on their sites, from social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems.
“Biden’s Surgeon General is abusing his office to pressure Big Tech companies to censor Americans,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “This lawsuit aims to uncover the details of this government attack on the First Amendment.”
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