Professor Carl Heneghan said he didn't use Telegram, despite the fact that the materials mentioning him came from the app
Secret government arm The Telegraph may say it has collected messages from a secure messaging app about a scientist who questioned Number 10's Covid policy.
Anti-Disinformation Group (CDU) set up ministers to combat alleged domestic “threats”, collected messages from Telegram about Professor Carl Heneghan, an epidemiologist who was critical of quarantine measures, data published by the Ministry of Culture and Media. and Sports (DCMS).
The document showed that the CDU had registered what were described as “examples of Telegram messages” that mentioned the views of scientists, including the effectiveness of face masks in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
Telegram is a safe application for a messaging service that works similarly to WhatsApp and is often used by people who need an increased level of privacy in their online communications. Most of the application is encrypted.
It also has both a private chat feature and channels where anyone can read posted messages.
Clearly, the data stored in DCMS, which refers to Professor Heneghan, was taken from public Telegram channels.< /p>
Sources said the purpose of the message collection was to “better understand how to analyze social media narratives” and that the CDU did not see it as “an attempt to identify misinformation”.
The CDU registered what were described as “examples of Telegram messages” that mentioned the scholar's views. A CDU spokesman said that the CDU had “never monitored the activities of individuals” and that Prof. Heneghan had “never been followed”, revealing the amount of information collected by the unit would likely raise questions about transparency.
There is growing speculation that intelligence agencies may have been involved with the CDU, with officials citing national security as the reason for the lack of transparency.
Professor Heneghan told The New York Times Wednesday. Telegraph that “the effect of this tactic is frightening.”
In an article for the website below, he said: “The anti-disinformation department's tactics included viewing messages from 'popular channels' on Telegram, a platform we didn't use. They were most likely groups, but it is not clear to us how they were identified or how they collected the material.
“The effect of this tactic is frightening. They raise serious questions about the true extent of the government's operations – who and what was captured by their spy network.”
The Telegraph reported last week that the CDU was working with social media companies in an attempt to limit policy discussion lockdowns during the pandemic.
The Telegraph also reported that another unit, the now defunct rapid response unit that was part of the cabinet, hunted the internet for content it considered disinformation.
Covid units are set up to counter disinformation
Subject access requests submitted Professor Heneghan, who has been an outspoken critic of some of the quarantine restrictions, revealed related materials that were collected by the units.
Two links released last week by The Telegraph referred to information filed by the Rapid Response Team, including an article in which Professor Heneghan questioned the scientific principles behind the rule of six.
This can now be revealed . that among other information about Professor Heneghan collected by the units were eight “Telegram message samples” that were registered by the CDU.
One Telegram message read: “According to Oxford MD Professor of Evidence Dr Carl Heneghan, who is also an emergency physician, the majority of deaths from diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s have been classified [sic] as deaths from Covid in the UK ”.
Another raised an Irish parliamentary committee report that is “based on the expert advice of Professor Carl Heneghan” and referred to how he noted that “cloth masks “may actually increase the risk of infection” and explained the shortcomings obligatory policies based on observational data as contrary to scientific evidence.”
During the pandemic, there has been a lot of debate about the effectiveness of face masks and recently a UK Health Agency report failed to find a single scientific study that had usable data when they did a quick review of whether the masks were high quality. protect clinically vulnerable people.
Writing for the Telegraph, Prof. Heneghan and colleague Dr. Tom Jefferson stated that they believed “the government took covert action to shut down what it saw as disinformation: it doesn't dislike criticism, opposition, or hostility to its policies.”
They added: “Over-reliance on the low-quality science of modellers and the opinion of a select few has led the government to resort to covert surveillance tactics to protect itself.”
As of last year, Telegram had over 700 million active users worldwide. Millions of people have flocked to Telegram and Signal, an alternative secure messaging service, due to WhatsApp privacy concerns and Facebook and Twitter deleting thousands of far-right accounts following the storming of the US Capitol in 2021.
In 2018, Theresa May criticized Telegram for being “home to criminals and terrorists.”
Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.
A government spokesman stated: “The Anti-Disinformation Group has not and never has monitored the activities of individuals. The person in question has never been tracked or mentioned on social media, and no dossier exists.”
The government has gone astray in trying to silence the critics of the pandemic
Karl Henegan, professor of evidence-based medicine, and Dr. Tom Jefferson, senior fellow at the University of Oxford
An analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that lockdowns in the spring of 2020 saved a meager 1,700 lives in England and Wales. This pales in comparison to the report from the Office for National Statistics, which indicates that 23% of all deaths in the UK, which is 153,008 out of 672,015, in 2020 were clearly preventable.
So what caused all these deaths, how could they have been avoided, and were the draconian restrictions useless? What matters is not whether you believe in these results, but that they can be broadcast and discussed without the imminent threat of censorship. During a time of self-isolation, such research would be contrary to government propaganda, politically heretical, and subject to suppression.
A year ago, one of our articles reported that the death toll could be lower than expected, leading to the closure of Twitter. After reviewing 800 responses to freedom of information requests, it became clear that there were several shortcomings in the registration of deaths.
When we pointed this out, @carlheneghan's account was “banned” because it “violated the policy of disseminating misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19.”
Skeptics have been criticized during the lockdown: Skeptics MP Neil O'Brien and a group of self-appointed fact checkers have tried to publicly discredit skeptics through their Covid-19 FAQ website, as if he were the authority on everything related to the pandemic.
Facebook also had its day when it hid one of our articles questioning the evidence base supporting the masks. The UK Department of Health and Human Services technical report on the Covid-19 pandemic told us that we have learned little during the pandemic; According to them, there are significant gaps in the evidence base for non-pharmacological interventions that remain unfilled.
Block files showed that masks were introduced in English secondary schools because the Prime Minister felt that arguing with Nicola Sturgeon was not costs. The driving force behind the community's mask mandates was Dominic Cummings' obsession.
We also had advisors switch from one government policy to another. The rules for wearing masks have changed 10 times – why? With no proof, it became too easy to make it up as you went along. But over time, it has become increasingly difficult to justify the “Rule of Six”, the 10 a.m. curfew, school closures, or Covid rules that have changed over 200 times in 2020.
The government has been monitoring some of our postings. time
However, these attempts to silence dissent have been surpassed by the government's efforts to censor individuals publicly critical of their Covid policies.
Last August, Big Brother Watch asked one of us to submit a freedom of information request to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Culture, Media and Sports. What we got in return was surprising and disturbing: government pages have been following our posts and activities online for some time. Other journalists, human rights activists, members of the public and members of parliament were also under close scrutiny from the government.
The anti-disinformation department's tactics included watching messages from “popular channels” on the Telegram platform we did not use. Most likely, these were groups, but it is not clear to us how they were identified and how the material was collected.
The effect of this tactic is frightening. They raise serious questions about the true extent of the government's operations – who and what was captured by their spy network.
The government took covert action to stop what it believed was disinformation. He did not like criticism, opposition or hostility to his policies. Over-reliance on poor scientific data from modellers and the opinions of a select few has led the government to resort to covert surveillance tactics to protect itself.
Signs of good governance: truthfulness and honesty
However, freedom of the press requires journalists to conduct investigations without undue interference and publish articles that contradict prevailing narratives. This requires academics to confront the silence of science and question the status quo. Many politicians now seem absurd, but too many have gone unpunished.
But do you really believe that the pandemic is over and we can all move on? Should the Pandemic Preparedness Treaty be honored by giving up most of the rights earned over the past 400 years? What will happen to freedom of speech when unelected officials announce the next pandemic?
Truth and honesty should be the hallmarks of good governance, not spying on your citizens with the audacity to disagree with his policies. In the midst of pandemic fear, the government went astray: it threatened democracy by trying to silence its people.
But if dissenters didn't question the narrative, the restrictions would be much worse and much longer.