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Facebook, Twitter lawyers to testify in Congress on Russian Federation meddling

20 October, 2017, 01:05 | Author: Janis Wilson
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Representatives of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next month.

A bipartisan trio of USA senators has introduced legislation to regulate paid political ads that appear on Facebook, Google, and other social media in an effort to prevent foreign interference in US elections, with special emphasis placed on alleged actions by Russian Federation.

The bill also has the support of Republican Sen. The legislation also requires online platforms to "make all reasonable efforts" to ensure that foreign individuals are not purchasing U.S. political ads.

In addition to Klobuchar and Warner-the ranking Democrats on the Senate Rules and Intelligence committees, respectively-the bill is co-sponsored by Sen.

Whether the bill will advance is unclear.

The proposal arrives as congressional lawmakers continue to probe the extent to which Russian-aligned sought to co-opt Facebook, Google and Twitter before and after the 2016 presidential race.

Tech companies have been resistant to past attempts to regulate them, and Warner previously has been critical of social media platforms' slowness to cooperate with the Russian Federation investigation underway at Senate Intelligence Committee, which he vice-chairs. And their measure, in short, would require tech giants for the first time to make copies of political ads - and information about the audience the ads targeted - available for public inspection.

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The company turned over the ads to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election, and any possible coordination or collusion with campaigns.

Although Twitter and Google were apparently key to spreading fake news previous year, much of the information war took place on Facebook, where hundreds of pages dedicated to U.S. election issues were reportedly controlled by Russian trolls.

Senators are moving to boost transparency for online political ads, unveiling on Thursday what could be the first of several pieces of legislation to try to lessen influence from Russian Federation or other foreign actors on US elections. Warner and Klobuchar are still trying to woo additional Senate and House Republicans, who have spent much of the year rolling back federal regulations they see as burdensome.

He said the "idea isn't bad", but he wants to look at the technical issues.

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

"We need regulatory rules, a framework, that shields our elections from foreign money", Klobuchar said. "We have to secure our election systems and we have to do it now".

To prevent a repeat, Klobuchar, along with Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, unveiled the Honest Ads Act, which would require Facebook, Twitter, Google and other technology giants to post information about the source of political ads, just as US television and radio broadcasters are required to do. Warner said Thursday that "it is in their own self interest to work with us", pointing to the consumer trust that those companies depend on, and called the legislation a "light touch approach".

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