by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan issued a subpoena Tuesday to the National Science Foundation (NSF) relating to grants it awarded to universities and companies for the development of censorship tools.
The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported on a track within the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator program that awarded grants for teams of researchers to develop tools aimed at targeting misinformation. Jordan asked for the NSF’s communications with private companies and third-party groups “discussing content moderation on social media, including those relating to NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Track F program,” according to a letter to the agency.
“The information obtained by the Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, along with other publicly available information, have revealed how the federal government has pressured and colluded with Big Tech and other intermediaries to censor certain viewpoints on social media in ways that undermine First Amendment principles,” Jordan’s letter states. “The First Amendment prohibits government officials from imposing viewpoint-based restrictions on speech.”
The NSF initially awarded 12 research teams with grants of $750,000 each in September 2021 as part of its Convergence Accelerator Track F program. Six teams were chosen to advance to stage two, where they were given an additional $5 million in funding.
“It is necessary for Congress to gauge the extent to which NSF officials have coerced, pressured, worked with, or relied upon social media and other tech companies and third parties to censor speech,” the letter continues. “The scope of the Committee’s investigation includes understanding the extent and nature of NSF’s involvement in this censorship.”
The NSF repeatedly failed to respond to the committee’s prior voluntary requests for documents and internal communications, instead producing to the committee information that was, for the most part, already publicly available, according to the letter.