Senate Democrats introduce bill to combat foreign influence campaigns

Senate Democrats introduce bill to combat foreign influence campaigns
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats on Friday introduced legislation aimed at educating the public on how to identify misinformation on social media platforms and to limit the impact of foreign influence campaigns during elections.

The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would create a grant program at the Department of Education to assist states in developing media literacy programs and fund existing initiatives in this area across grades K-12.

ADVERTISEMENT

The grant funds would also be available for the development of media literacy education guidelines, and for hiring teachers with a background in media literacy or training educators on this issue.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Booker says he will not make December debate stage Yang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment MORE's (D-Minn.) office, in introducing the legislation, cited the findings of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE from his 22-month investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mueller's report noted that between 2013 and 2018 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm," created accounts on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter and posted content that reached about 126 million Americans.

The legislation is also sponsored by Democratic Sens. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump On The Money: Fed faces crossroads as it weighs third rate cut | Dem presses Mnuchin on 'alleged rampant corruption' | Boeing chief faces anger at hearing | Trouble for House deal on Ex-Im Bank Democrats renew push for contractor back pay from government shutdown MORE (Minn.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetYang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Schumer to colleagues running for White House: Impeachment comes first MORE (Colo.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing GOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat MORE (Mich.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur Sanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat Houston police chief stands by criticism of McConnell, Cruz, Cornyn: 'This is not political' MORE (Calif.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday MORE (Ohio).

“Adversaries are targeting our democracy with sophisticated information campaigns designed to divide Americans and undermine our political system,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “One of the best ways we can fight back is to give people the tools they need to identify these disinformation campaigns and that begins with educating students. Effective media literacy education teaches students to access, analyze, and evaluate information.” 

According to Klobuchar’s office, the bill is endorsed by groups including Media Literacy Now, the University of Rhode Island Media Education Lab and the National Association for Media Literacy.

Klobuchar has been among the more active Senate Democrats in pushing for the passage of election security legislation, sponsoring multiple bipartisan bills on the topic during both this Congress and the last. 

Klobuchar, who is running for president, has also been public with her intention to prioritize election security if elected, writing in a Medium post in June that one action she would take in her first 100 days would be to “prioritize cybersecurity and protect our elections and other American infrastructure from cyber attack.”