Assembly Passes Bill to Combat Foreign Interference in Elections

Legislation requires ‘paid for by’ language on all advertisements

Albany, NY – Following widespread foreign interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, the New York State Assembly passed legislation Wednesday to ensure New York’s elections are protected from similar cyber-attacks. The Democracy Protection Act (A9930) would increase transparency and integrity in New York’s electoral process by requiring that all political communications, including internet and digital, disclose the organization or individual paying for the communication.

“These biased, malicious advertisements have corrupted the democratic process,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, a co-sponsor of A9930. “With more and more people getting news and information online and through social media, we need to make sure voters know who’s behind the political ads that are popping up everywhere.”

Under the bill, all political communications by a political committee, including advertisements posted online or to social media, would need to include a “paid for by” statement followed by the name of the political committee making the expenditure. If the advertisement is too small to contain the statement, it must contain a link to another webpage where the information is prominently displayed. Foreign nationals or foreign government agents are also prohibited from registering as an independent expenditure committee for the purpose of purchasing political communications in state or local elections.

The bill also requires each online platform to maintain and make available online a complete record of all political communications made by independent expenditure committees, including the audience targeted by the advertisement, the number of views generated by it and the name, address and phone number of the person purchasing the ad.

In testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook revealed that Russian-linked content reached up to 126 million Americans. Twitter discovered 3,814 accounts created by a Russian group for the purposes of influencing the presidential election and sowing division, as well as more than 50,000 Russian-linked automated or “bot” accounts.