Sens. Klobuchar, Warner Introducing Online Campaign Ad Bill

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Thursday (Oct. 19) will introduce their bill to try and prevent any foreign interference in future elections and improve online political ad transparency.

Some had been looking for it to be introduced a couple of weeks ago, but the draft was still being tweaked.

That comes in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including by buying online ads on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

"The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite," according to the senators, who are unveiling the bill at a Capitol Hill press conference.

Political ads on radio and TV are required to identify who is funding them, though many Democrats argue the FCC rules on those disclosures need to be tightened to better identify the actual funders rather than simply the PACS, with names like Americans for a Better America, getting that money.

Online advertisers have been raising concerns that the bill could put a crimp in their political ad sales.

"Online ads are the fuel that powers the unlimited expressions and presentations of free speech on the open internet," says Dave Grimaldi, executive VP of public policy for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "Growing the vibrant media ecosystem, keeping the public trust, and enhancing the transparency of our industry – for online ads in particular – are goals we share with Senators Klobuchar and Warner. We look forward to working with them to advance this shared objective while maintaining and protecting the First Amendment rights political ads embody."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.