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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Should Washington Begin Regulating Facebook? Some Lawmakers Say Yes.

Nov 23, 2017
In The News

For weeks, Facebook has been under intense scrutiny in Washington after revelations about Russian attempts to use the platform to influence the 2016 elections. Now, some lawmakers are talking about turning that scrutiny into action.... There are new calls on Capitol Hill for stronger federal regulation of Facebook, possibly requiring greater transparency and disclosures for digital political ads. But lawmakers have yet to take up more sweeping reforms that some internet policy experts and advocates believe are necessary to protect users of the social-media platform, given Facebook’s outsize influence and vast stores of personal data.... Two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virginia, together with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, introduced a bill last month that would require large online platforms to maintain public files of political ads, including who purchased the ads, the targeted audience and the number of views they generated. The legislation would also require these platforms to “make all reasonable efforts” to guarantee that foreign entities and individuals aren’t buying political ads to influence American elections.... The bill has also attracted bipartisan support in the House, where it was introduced by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.... “This is a very good start in terms of setting up expectations of transparency and disclosure,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., House chairman of his party’s Democracy Reform Task Force. “Online platforms have a great deal of political power.”