WA Sec. of State Accused of ‘Spying’ On Citizens’ Social Media Posts
The Washington State Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (a former Democratic legislator) over his use of an offshore social media monitoring company.
State GOP Chair Jim Walsh outlined the complaint
According to the WA State GOP:
"Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (“Secretary Hobbs”) is using public funds to pay an offshore artificial intelligence company to surveil voters. Speech objectionable to Secretary Hobbs is “fact-checked,” reported as a “threat,” and suppressed. It is unethical and illegal to use public funds to aid Secretary Hobbs and/or his political party in suppressing opposition views. Such government censorship is a spreading cancer in our society.1"
The Center Square reports Walsh and other GOP leaders were alerted to the contract by several citizens who had filed public records requests on several topics from the state. These people told Walsh some of the reports they received included bi-weekly reports from the British company.
According to The Center Square:
"The report for the period July 21 through August 3 flagged four narratives as possible concerns based on social media posts by Walsh, several private individuals, and Bill Bruch, Chairman of the State Republican Party Election Integrity Committee.
The briefing includes a description of each narrative, screenshots of the relevant social media posts and the projected impact. The cybersecurity company also reported the number of times the original post was liked, shared or commented on by others."
Meta Unseals Previously ‘Classified’ Data in WA, US Lawsuit
Walsh and the GOP say Hobbs has created what is called the Security and Response Division, reportedly to monitor citizen activity under the guise of preserving election integrity and security. However, the GOP complaint points out some alarming information:
"Secretary Hobbs has created, despite the legislature’s rejection of such a program, an Information Security & Response Division.3 This new division contracts with Logically,4 an off-shore artificial intelligence surveillance company, to scour the internet and suppress any statements by citizens critical of Secretary Hobbs, his office, or his policies.5"
Hobbs's project is costing taxpayers at least $147,000, and the work began even before the final contract was signed.
Walsh and the GOP said they have formally asked the Washington State Ethics Board to cease all such activities with this project.