US Senators Seek to Block Foreign Online Ads Targeting American Voters

US Senators Seek to Block Foreign Online Ads Targeting American Voters

This disclosure bill was drafted by Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner; soon after Republican Sen.

But it's unclear if Congress will be able to agree on any such legislation amid heightened partisan tensions. "We recently learned that $100,000 was spent in [Russian] rubles on Facebook political ads during the 2016 election".

It is illegal for foreign entities to make contributions in USA elections, but a lack of rules around online political advertising means the Russian ad activity could go mostly undetected. Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, one of three panels looking into Russian activity tied to the election.

They were joined on the bill by Sen.

"We know that our next election is only 383 days away", Senator Klobuchar said. It would require greater disclosure about online political ads, putting the World Wide Web more in-line with radio and TV.

"Unfortunately, US laws requiring transparency in political campaigns have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology allowing our adversaries to take advantage of these loopholes to influence millions of Americans with impunity". (At time of writing, Gizmodo had not reviewed a copy of the bill's language.) Moreover, much of the Russian propaganda identified in recent weeks-widely attributed to a St. Petersburg-based troll farm loyal to the Kremlin-did not take the shape of traditional campaign ads ostensibly covered under such laws. The effort comes as Congress continues to investigate highly-targeted foreign propaganda during the 2016 campaign, which reached, by some estimates, tens of millions of Americans via Facebook alone. He argued that the bill introduced Thursday was a "light touch" approach to regulating the social media companies.

In their press conference announcing the bill, the senators noted that Google and Facebook command 85% on online political ads.

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Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement to reporters after the meetings ended in Arlington, Va. Additional negotiating rounds will be scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.

Platforms would also be required to make "reasonable efforts" to keep foreign actors from buying political ads.

The bill has the backing of Republican John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

An executive from Alphabet Inc's Google unit also is expected to appear at public hearings before the House and Senate intelligence committees, but the company has not yet said who will testify. You can thank them for things like the awkward "I'm so and so and I approve this message" statements at the end of political TV ads.

"We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising", Erin Egan, Facebook's vice president for United States public policy, said in a statement.

Dubbed the Honest Ads Act, the proposed legislation aims to make online platforms disclose paid political ads.

Although the ad cost figure is relatively low, Warner explained earlier in the week that the ads and fake accounts "work in tandem to generate higher placement". The ads appear to have come from a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, according to Facebook.

An ad-buyer could reach up to nearly 4 million Americans in 24 hours by spending $9,999 - a dollar under the $10,000 limit - according to estimates on Facebook's ad platform reviewed by CNN.

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