Task Force on Countering Disinformation – State of Arizona Supreme Court

Editor’s Note – Now, this is refreshing.  How many times have we read the following words?:

“This is not just a local or national threat, but a global one. Europe and the West are experiencing a flood of disinformation campaigns. Although this menace predates the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the public health crisis has provided a fertile landscape for malicious actors to spread disinformation.”

In countless articles and reports and throughout my Twitter feed, you’ll find the same words perhaps in a different order but conveying the same message.  The State of Arizona didn’t discover the problem!  BUT, the State of Arizona did look at the problem and then (I would guess) looked around for the federal government’s response and found it, well, wanting/non-existent/ineffective/all of the above. 

The recommendations may not be ground-breaking in some respects but what’s important is that they are actionable by the State of Arizona and perhaps that’s what’s been missing in our criticism of the U.S. government’s (non)response to the flood of disinformation that’s undermining our system of government and way of life.  We expect, perhaps, too much from our very large federal bureaucracy which must appease so many diverse interests.  Perhaps we/I have been thinking ‘too big’ and what’s called for is some creative response at the state level which may be more manageable and involve a level of government that, if recent polls are correct, engenders more trust from the public. 

The Arizona Supreme Court  Countering Disinformation Task Force Recommendations:

a) Review examples of disinformation and misleading campaigns targeting the U.S. and Arizona justice systems;
b) Consider the need for local and national responses and information sharing related to disinformation and ways to communicate accurate information;
c) Consider a centralized point of contact to assist in identifying disinformation and having it removed while respecting individual opinions and First Amendment rights;
d) Consider state or local legislation that would require foreign agents to identify their content to the public;
e) Propose approaches to public education and communication that accurately reflect the roles and processes of courts;
f) Suggest technology and resources that can identify disinformation campaigns early enough to counter them with accurate information;
g) Identify public and private individuals and organizations that could share information to identify disinformation and respond with accurate information.

The State would obviously focus on those things that are of importance to its citizens and it may not be complementary with a list of federal concerns but that’s ok.  What you want, and what’s pointed out in this report, is to build public awareness and if the issues touch close to home, then that’s where you should start. 

Kudos to Arizona.  Congress should watch with interest State and local efforts and perhaps seed those that are effective.  What better place to start that in shoring up the trust in our court system.  We, as a nation, make a claim to the Rule of Law so what better place to start than in the system that makes judgements on its enforcement?

Read the whole report, it’s not a long read and well worth the time. Find it through the Pell Center’s newsletter at https://salve.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c2ec02b0ba766fda7fed6793d&id=2941b1d8f0&e=790776974a

or from the Arizona Courts website at http://www.azcourts.gov/cscommittees/Task-Force-on-Countering-Disinformation

h/t to the Pell Center’s Active Measures Newsletter which is a weekly compendium of news on Political Warfare, Influence and Information Campaigns.  You can sign up to get that newsletter here.

As always, what’s written in these comments is my own personal reflection and not any IPA coordinated policy.