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Hill joins FEC in war on Drudge, online media
by Paul Bedard | September 04, 2019 06:08 PM
First, it was Democrats on the Federal Election Commission.
Now it’s congressional Democrats and Republicans who want to squelch the political voices on major online websites such as Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times, and eventually the Drudge Report.
According to an election law expert, Congress is set to take up consideration of a new law targeting small-time advertisers on the biggest trafficked websites.
Called the Honest Ads Act, it would force websites to police their site for fake influencers and identify the names and addresses of anybody who spend $500 or more on political ads. It was introduced by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is a co-sponsor. An identical bill was introduced in the House by two Democrats.
First Amendment advocates and conservatives said that is a threat to free speech. They also said it threatens small advertisers in the same way that Democratic presidential candidate Joaquin Castro did when he published the names of President Trump’s supporters.
"The first legislative response in Congress was the Honest Ads Act, principally targeting speech by law-abiding Americans and media companies in a clumsy effort to screen a tiny fraction of potential foreign propaganda. The act would require Americans who spend as little as $500 on ads, discussing any political topic, to publicly expose their identities, addresses and detailed information about their audiences,” former FEC Chairman Lee Goodman said in an opinion column.
He told Secrets that if passed, the legislation that expands the FEC’s playing field would expand beyond big websites with 50 million or more unique monthly visitors, but to the next tier including the Drudge Report, which has some 23.1 million unique visitors, according to the web counter Quantcast.
Goodman told Secrets, “Drudge is a meaningful metaphor for a political website that runs paid ads about political topics and gets tens of millions of unique visitors. The Honest Ads Act would make those websites legally responsible for collecting personal information about their advertisers and publishing that information. If they fail, they go to jail.”
As chairman, he worked to stifle efforts of Democratic commissioners to regulate conservative and online media, including Drudge. However, there is a new campaign that could impact Drudge and other online media.
For the Hill and under the headline "Honest' political ads: Watch out, Drudge, you're next," he wrote:
"The bill suffers from several inescapable flaws. It would apply only to paid ads — but, in 2016, most Russian propaganda was posted on free social media platforms. It would apply only to the largest media platforms — those with more than 50 million unique monthly visitors, which covers Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times but leaves thousands of other platforms viewed by hundreds of millions of Americans open to foreign propaganda. It would be only a matter of time before other highly visited advertising platforms are swept into the law. So, watch out, Drudge: Congress will come for you next."
Instead of larding on more rules for the FEC to enforce, Goodman said that Congress should amend another law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, that gives the Justice Department power to filter out foreign media influencers.
“FARA should be amended to adapt it to foreign operatives targeting Americans via social media platforms. Its registration and disclaimer provisions could be extended to cover foreign speakers – not just their U.S. agents – whenever they purposefully utilize American telecommunications systems and equipment, including social media accounts, advertising platforms, computer servers and internet connections,” he wrote in the Hill.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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