House passes bill to protect elections from foreign interference


FILE – This Friday Jan. 11, 2013 file photo of a member of the Cybercrime Center as he turns on the light in a lab during a media tour at the occasion of the official opening of the Cybercrime Center at Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. The European Union police agency says that cybercriminals are using new technology and exploiting existing online vulnerabilities as they shift their focus to larger and more profitable targets. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

LANSING — The House of Representatives passed legislation that would protect elections from foreign interference and disinformation campaigns.

The SHIELD Act (Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy) amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 by creating a duty to report foreign election influence. It also implements a reporting system by Federal campaigns to identify and report interferences.

Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report explaining Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign to influence the U.S. political process.

In the past week, Facebook stated it had removed Russian and Iranian networks of accounts who were spreading disinformation related to the 2020 election.

“Most Americans know that foreign governments have no business interfering in our elections. Instead, the Trump campaign and White House have welcomed and repeatedly solicited foreign assistance for his political activities,” Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (CA-D-19) who introduced the legislation said. “This behavior is unacceptable, and it is telling that the White House has gone to great lengths to hide it from the American people.”

Portions of the SHIELD Act were modeled after two bills Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI – 08) introduced:the PAID ADs Act, a bill that would make it illegal for foreign entities to purchase campaign ads that support or oppose a candidate, including on social media; and the FIRE Act, which says that any candidate who receives an offer of campaign contributions or information from a foreign national must report it to federal authorities within a week, according to Slotkin’s office.

The SHIELD ACT of 2019 includes the following reforms:

  • Creates a duty to report illicit offers of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.
  • Helps prevent foreign interference in future elections by improving transparency of online political advertisements.
  • Closes loopholes that allow foreign nationals and foreign governments to spend in U.S. elections.
  • Restricts exchange of campaign information between candidates and foreign governments and their agents.
  • Prohibits deceptive practices about voting procedures.

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