McCain Honest Ads Act looks to regulate online political ads

Lester Mason
October 19, 2017

The US Congress wants to regulate Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other internet companies like broadcasting companies.

Lawmakers plan to introduce a bill Thursday that would impose new requirements on online platforms that run political ads. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia joined McCain in sponsoring the bill that requires internet companies to maintain a public file detailing information about the source and scale of each political ad purchase.

Meredith McGehee, chief of policy at Issue One, a non-profit trying to reduce the influence of money in USA elections, said introduction of the bill could be a first effort to greater regulate the big tech platforms that now dominate digital media and advertising. They could have been seen by as many as 25 million Facebook users, CNBC estimates. It was found that Russian agents also purchased ads with Google leading up to last November.

John McCain will join two Democratic lawmakers Thursday to introduce legislation requiring increased transparency in the digital political ad space, in an effort to curtail the ability of foreign adversaries to influence USA elections.

The letter also proposed that the public files include copies of the ads, descriptions of the targeted audience, number of views generated, and rates charged, among other information.

Political ads on radio and TV are required to identify who is funding them, though many Democrats argue the FCC rules on those disclosures need to be tightened to better identify the actual funders rather than simply the PACS, with names like Americans for a Better America, getting that money.

It looks not only Russian Federation was buying commercials online to help influence the election a year ago, Facebook and Google also worked closely with conservative non-profit Secure America Now and advertising firm Harris Media on ad campaigns aiming swing state voters with anti-Muslim and anti-refugee messages, and linking Democratic candidates to terrorists, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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