Following Publication of Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on Russia’s Use of Social Media to Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election, Ranking Member Klobuchar Pushes for Passage of Honest Ads Act and Other Legislation to Combat Foreign Election Interference
The Honest Ads Act would help prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite, the Intelligence Committee Report specifically calls on Congress to pass such legislation
WASHINGTON – Following publication of the Select Committee on Intelligence’s new report titled, “Russia’s Use of Social Media,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, pushed for the passage of her bill, the Honest Ads Act, and additional legislation she has championed that would combat foreign influence campaigns. The Honest Ads Act, legislation also led by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.
“Russia invaded our democracy—not with bombs, jets, or tanks but with a sophisticated cyber mission to undermine the foundation of our democratic system, primarily through social media. This bipartisan investigation reports that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) sought to influence the 2016 presidential election by creating political chaos. The Committee also found that the IRA has increased its work to sow division online since 2016, and that they are actively working to do it all again in 2020.
“In the report, the Committee recommends that ‘Congress consider legislation to ensure Americans know the source behind online political advertisements, similar to existing requirements for television, radio, and satellite ads.’ That’s exactly what my bill, the Honest Ads Act, would do. Passing the Honest Ads Act would update our laws to ensure that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as other forms of media and make those ads public so Americans can see who is trying to influence them.
“Finally, the Report also recommends that a task force to combat disinformation campaigns be established. Ranking Member Reed of the Armed Services Committee and I recently introduced the Combatting Foreign Influence Act, legislation that would establish a Malign Foreign Influence Response Center where officials from across the intelligence community can collaborate across departments to assess influence operations with a whole-of-government approach.
“We cannot let the next election become a repeat of 2016—free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and we must act to pass my legislation and protect their integrity.”
Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.
Klobuchar also leads legislation to combat foreign interference campaigns by improving media literacy education that teaches students skills to identify misinformation online. The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would create a grant program at the Department of Education to help states develop media literacy education and fund existing initiatives across grades K-12. The grant program would be available on a state and local level to develop state-wide media literacy education guidelines, incorporate media literacy into curriculum, hire educators experienced with media literacy, and promote educator professional development in media literacy. The legislation authorizes $20 million in grant funding for the program.
Klobuchar and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also have legislation to establish a Malign Foreign Influence Response Center to combat election interference operations conducted by foreign adversaries against the United States. The Combatting Foreign Influence Act would require the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to establish a Malign Foreign Influence Response Center where officials from across the intelligence community could collaborate and ensure that agencies and departments are working together to assess influence operations with a whole-of-government approach. Similar steps have been taken to address terrorism through the establishment of the Counterterrorism Center at the ODNI.
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