Technocensorship: When Corporations Serve As a Front for Government Censors

John W. Whitehead
7 min readFeb 27, 2024

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear. We must, therefore, be on our guard against extremists who urge us to adopt police state measures. Such persons advocate breaking down the guarantees of the Bill of Rights in order to get at the communists. They forget that if the Bill of Rights were to be broken down, all groups, even the most conservative, would be in danger from the arbitrary power of government.” — Harry S. Truman, Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States (August 8, 1950)

Nothing good can come from allowing the government to sidestep the Constitution.

Unfortunately, the government has become an expert at disregarding constitutional roadblocks intended to protect the rights of the citizenry.

When these end-runs don’t suffice, the government hides behind the covert, clandestine, classified language of national security; or obfuscates, complicates, stymies, and bamboozles; or creates manufactured diversions to keep the citizenry in the dark; or works through private third parties not traditionally bound by the Constitution.

This last tactic is increasingly how the government gets away with butchering our freedoms, by having its corporate partners serve as a front for its nefarious deeds.

This is how the police state has managed to carry out an illegal secret dragnet surveillance program on the American people over the course of multiple presidential administrations.

Relying on a set of privacy loopholes, the White House (under Presidents Obama, Trump and now Biden) has been sidestepping the Fourth Amendment by paying AT&T to allow federal, state, and local law enforcement to access — without a warrant — the phone records of Americans who are not suspected of a crime.

The government used a similar playbook to get around the First Amendment, packaged as an effort to control the spread of speculative or false information in the name of national security.

--

--

John W. Whitehead

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, is one of the nation’s leading advocates of civil liberties and human rights.