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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Where Congress' Fight with Facebook, Twitter, and Google Stands

Nov 6, 2017
In The News

“We’re still kind of digesting what’s being proposed by these recent companies,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told the Washington Examiner. “My expectation is that in addition to whatever ad disclosures happen at a granular level, in terms of what hits the user on Facebook or Twitter and their ability to see ads that are running at them, there also needs to be a centralized platform easily accessed by the public that rolls up the ad-buys in a variety of ways that allow people to determine what kind of activity is actually happening.” ... And Sarbanes said the Honest Ads Act sets a good standard for lawmakers as they examine the new policies Internet companies roll out.... “We can use that as a benchmark for judging some of the voluntary proposals that are being put forward by these various companies,” he said. “I think it is important that as legislators, we kind of have our radar up that these companies aren’t trying to end-run this conversation and preempt appropriate legislative action that will protect the public’s interest to provide the disclosure and transparency that ought to be in place.” ... Lawmakers may have to work through disagreements with Internet companies over proposed regulations and legislation, but for Sarbanes, there is an element of haste for both parties.... “It doesn’t help us much if we design and propose the perfect centralized database or if these companies themselves come up with the absolute Cadillac model of what disclosure looks like if it’s not ready and available until two years from now or even right before the election,” he said of the 2018 midterm elections. “They need to move quickly, and Congress needs to move quickly to make sure the remedy we’re looking for here is in place earlier rather than later with respect to this election year, so that by the time people are focusing on getting information and making decisions about candidates and campaigns and the election, they have plenty of information at their fingertips to do that in a responsible way.”