Honest Ads Act Would Deter Foreign Interference in 2018 Through Online Ads

Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at Campaign Legal Center (CLC) released the following statement about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals for conspiracy to defraud the United States through interference in the 2016 elections:

“It shouldn’t require an extensive Special Counsel investigation to address foreign interference in our elections. Had effective online disclaimer and disclosure laws been in place in 2016, Russia’s wide-ranging influence campaign might have been detected sooner—or Russia might have been deterred from engaging in the effort in the first place.

Congress should be doing it all it can to protect our elections from foreign interference. This means holding a hearing and passing the Honest Ads Act to shore up the vulnerabilities that Russia exploited in 2016. We need strong disincentives to prevent foreign actors from targeting American voters with election-related messages. Our democracy depends on it.”

Learn more about the Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in October that would modernize the laws surrounding the ban on foreign election interference by ensuring that paid internet ads are subject to the same disclaimer and recordkeeping rules that currently apply to television ads and radio ads. If enacted, this bill would require major sellers of online advertising – like Google, Facebook and Twitter – to keep a publicly available database of significant political advertising, including the content of the ads and who paid for them. The bill has yet to receive a hearing.

CLC released a report detailing the vulnerabilities of American elections to foreign interference that were exposed in the 2016 presidential election. The report outlines solutions for addressing this most urgent issue, which would protect the integrity of our democracy for the upcoming 2018 elections and beyond.