Bipartisan Bill Aimed At Foreign Election Influence On Social Media Unveiled

McCain Honest Ads Act looks to regulate online political ads

The Senate Intelligence Committee is planning a November 1 hearing on the issue, and has invited representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify.

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat of Virginia and a co-author on the bill, added that the goal of the bill is to ensure transparency without over-regulation."This is the first substantive bipartisan piece of legislation that's trying to - with a very light touch, because we don't want to slow down innovation, or restrict free speech or people's access to the internet - to deal with the problem that we saw in 2016 in terms of foreign interference in our electoral process", said Warner.

"I have a hard time understanding how you do legislation on social media platforms before you have them in for a hearing", Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, told CNN on Thursday. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are sponsoring the bill with support from John McCain (R-Ariz.).

It's also unclear where the social media giants will land on the bill once the details are released.

Facebook has turned over 3,000 paid political ads purchased by Russian-linked accounts to the House and Senate intelligence committees that which showed efforts to sow discord in the United States with posts on Black Lives Matter, gun rights and more.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russian Federation sought to interfere in the USA election to boost Republican President Donald Trump's chances of winning, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian Federation.

At least two congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting probes into the allegations and to investigate whether there was any collusion with members of the Trump campaign team. It would require that major internet platforms-those with an average of 50 million or more monthly viewers-document when a person or a group has spent more than $500 total on electioneering ads.

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While getting business and labor on board might sound like an impossible task, "the day will come" that will prove it can be done, he said.

"We hope this bill, which merits serious consideration, catalyzes an overdue public debate and substantive action in Congress and the Federal Election Commission to create platform parity for political ad disclosure across TV, radio, print and Internet companies".

"I don't really care what they're called - what I care about is that they are selling ads, they have huge departments of people selling ads [and] they're making money off it, just like TV, just like radio does", she said. James Lankford, said he has concerns about the bill, including that "there is a difference between the public airwaves and privately held fiber, basically, and how it's managed".

Announcing the legislation at a news conference, the two Democrats framed the issue as a matter of national security.

"We know that our next election is only 383 days away", Senator Klobuchar said. "We have to secure our election systems and we have to do it now".

Warner and Klobuchar said that 85 percent of paid online political ads go through Facebook and Google. A Google spokeswoman said on Thursday there was no update from the company.

"We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising".

A Twitter spokesperson said that the company looked "forward to engaging with Congress and the FEC on these issues".

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