July 02, 2020

Harris, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Sasse File Amendment to Require Transparency for Foreign Agent Media Outlets

Requires news outlets pushing foreign interests to disclose foreign agent status

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) on Thursday filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require registered foreign media outlets to provide notice to U.S. consumers. The Intelligence Community’s assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation report concluded that Russia-controlled media outlets are a central part of the Russian propaganda apparatus. The Department of Justice has also recently required a number of Chinese outlets that spread propaganda overseas to register as foreign agents.

“In 2016, we saw how far America’s adversaries are willing to go to influence our elections. If foreign countries are spreading propaganda, American consumers have a right to know,” said Harris. “This commonsense provision would require foreign agents to clearly disclose their affiliation to readers, viewers, and listeners. This transparency will help consumers judge the source of information, which is especially important in an election year.” 

"All too often our news media are subject to undue influence by our overseas rivals like China and Russia," said Cornyn. "By requiring these foreign state-run news networks to provide notice of their allegiance to the consumer, we can cut down on the amount of disinformation these bad actors try to sow here at home. Especially in an election year, it is critical that Americans stay alert when faced with foreign media campaigns."

“This bill will help shine a light on foreign propaganda masquerading as news, seeking to influence our elections. Americans’ newsfeeds are being flooded with Russian and Chinese-backed conspiracy theories that consumers bear the burden of verifying. This legislation will require those already registered as foreign agents to reveal their true allegiances for all to see,” said Blumenthal.

“It’s a fact that foreign, state-run media outlets are trying to create divisions in America. We shouldn’t be surprised that adversaries like Putin and Xi would use these tools to push their propaganda on freedom loving Americans. This legislation makes it easier for Americans to know what are Putin and Xi’s messages and is an important way for the U.S. to combat disinformation from bad actors abroad,” said Sasse.

The amendment would require foreign media outlets that register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) to inform consumers of their FARA status.

A copy of the NDAA amendment can be found HERE.

Bill text can be found HERE.