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Saturday, October 12, 2019

The fight to keep foreign governments from interfering with US elections

Langevin Introduces Bill to Combat Disinformation and Foreign Interference in U.S. Political Process

Image result for foreign interference in US electionsCongressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, a bill to strengthen media literacy and disinformation education. 

U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Lauren Underwood (D-JL) cosponsored the bill alongside Langevin.

The bill introduction follows the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report detailing Russia’s robust and ongoing disinformation campaign to influence the U.S. political process, stating that, “addressing the challenge of disinformation in the long-term will ultimately need to be tackled by an informed and discerning population of citizens who are both alert to the threat and armed with the critical thinking skills necessary to protect against malicious influence.”

The report includes a specific recommendation for “a public initiative propelled by federal funding… focused on building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.”


“During the 2016 election, Russia waged an extensive dis- and mis-information campaign targeting American voters, and our foreign adversaries continue to attempt to interfere with our elections” said Congressman Langevin, who earlier this year led an effort to include civics education in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020.

“We must combat this grave threat to our democracy, and increasing media literacy is an important tool to improve resiliency. I am proud to join my colleagues in Congress to safeguard our democracy and better educate the American people on how to identify misinformation.”

Foreign adversaries are using social and traditional media platforms to influence political processes in the United States and in democracies across the world. Experts agree that one of the best ways to combat foreign influence campaigns is to educate people on how to identify misinformation.

Improving digital media literacy will ensure American citizens are able to access, analyze, and evaluate information. While media literacy is important for media consumers of all ages, media literacy education that begins at an early age can cultivate life-long skills. 
  
The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would: 

Create a Department of Education grant program to support K-12 digital citizenship and media literacy education. 

The grant program would be available to local educational agencies to incorporate media literacy into existing curriculum, establish new curriculum, hire educators experienced with media literacy, and promote educator professional development in media literacy. 

Funds could also be used for state education agencies to establish media literacy advisory councils to create state-wide guidelines and best practices for media literacy education, and for state education agencies to implement the advisory councils’ recommendations.

$20 million in grant funding would be authorized for the Department of Education to administer the program.