An information warfare unit in the British Army monitored citizens critical of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an anonymous whistleblower told The Mail on Sunday.
The whistleblower penned an open letter detailing the work, which he said “hangs over my career like a black cloud.”
“We would take screenshots of tweets from people expressing dissatisfaction with the UK Government’s action against Covid,” the whistleblower wrote. “The project leader would then gather these screenshots and send them to the Cabinet Office. Feedback from the Cabinet Office would direct us over what to look for the next day.
“This domestic monitoring of citizens seemed not to be driven by a desire to address the public’s concerns, but to identify levers for compliance with controversial Government policies,” they added.
The whistleblower said this work was done by the 77th Brigade, a unit of regular and reserve troops whose website states that it uses “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviors of the opposing forces and adversaries.”
Instead of “adversaries,” 77th Brigade reportedly focused on the domestic population during the pandemic. The whistleblower wrote that “to skirt the legal difficulties” of the military monitoring domestic dissent, they took the view that any account without a real name or nationality associated with it was a potential foreign agent and “fair game.”
“But it is quite obvious that our activities resulted in the monitoring of the UK population,” the whistleblower wrote, adding that they’d monitored “the social media posts of ordinary, scared people. These posts did not contain information that was untrue or coordinated — it was simply fear.”
The unit put together dossiers on high-profile figures like the British politician David Davis, who questioned the modeling of death toll predictions, and the journalist Peter Hitchens, according to The Mail.
The news about the 77th Brigade came amid other reporting by the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch revealing efforts to counter “disinformation” in other units of the British government.