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Free speech experts are warning that a supposed legislative fix to Russian meddling pushed by Democrats will actually end up chilling the speech of everyday American citizens.
The Honest Ads Act, a bill crafted by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, purports to remove foreign influence from U.S. politics by pushing radical transparency in online political advertising. The legislation requires online ad publishers, such as social media websites and news websites, to publicly disclose the funding sources of such ads.
Honest - Ads - Act - Co-sponsors - Republican
The Honest Ads Act has 30 Democratic co-sponsors and was also originally co-sponsored by the late Republican Sen. John McCain. The bill has been reintroduced with a bipartisan co-sponsor from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Klobuchar, who is running for president in 2020, brought up the bill during Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Election - Laws - Money - Ads - People
“Will you help us try to at least to change our election laws so that we can show where the money is coming from and who is paying for these ads so that people have access to these ads?” Klobuchar asked Barr.
Barr said he would support the bill “in concept.”
Speech - Experts - Honest - Ads - Act
But free speech experts say that the Honest Ads Act is a large “speech grab” that doesn’t even address the problem it purports to solve.
In January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found in its report on Russian meddling that Russian actors purchased $100,000 in political advertisements on social media platforms with the intention of stoking division among American citizens. The amount Russians spent on ads is minuscule compared to the over $1.4 billion spent on political ads in the 2016 cycle, accounting for less than 1/100 of one percent of total ad spending.
Enforcement - Laws - Actors - Advertisements
Rather than focusing on enforcement of existing laws that already make it illegal for foreign actors to purchase political advertisements, the...
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