Counter-Disinformation Bill Clears Senate

American Interest: “Amid all the media hysteria over Russian propaganda and its effect on the U.S. presidential election, few have noted the quiet advance of legislation designed to counter such threats. Last week, a counter-propaganda bill sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill is expected to be signed by President Obama before he leaves office.”

“Still, there is no reason to celebrate quite yet. For one, the effectiveness of the new legislation will depend on its implementation by the new administration. Given Trump’s outright dismissal of concerns about Russian hacking and propaganda, he is unlikely to make countering such efforts a priority. Moreover, some experts like Clint Watts have argued that the bill’s interagency approach to fighting propaganda will be inherently unfocused; throwing more money at a government bureaucracy is no guaranteed recipe for success.”

“Finally, there is the risk that empowering anti-propaganda efforts will only add to the unreasonable panic over Putin-planted ‘fake news’ that has engulfed public debate since the election. We have argued before that such hysteria is overwrought, and that overreacting will only play into Putin’s hands.”

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