Better defenses for our election systems
Americans cannot afford to wait for their president to
acknowledge that a hostile foreign government meddled in
the most fundamental act of democracy, an election, and is
ready to do so again. That day may never come with
President Trump, who seems to regard any admission of
Russian interference on his behalf as delegitimizing his
There is no time to wait...
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, state Assemblyman Kevin Mullin,
D-San Mateo, has written AB2188 to require social medial
platforms to disclose the true identity of the funders of
political advertisements. The Mullin bill is a natural
extension of his Disclose Act, signed into law last
â€œMuch of the new money in politics is
moving in the social media space,â€ Mullin said
by phone Thursday. â€œWe just want to make
sure that the same disclosure requirements for TV and radio
are applicable for social media buys by state candidates
and state ballot measures, so California voters know who is
really behind these measures.â€
What's most important about the Mullin bill is that it does
not just require the names of the organizations behind a
measure or candidate -- which can often be deceptive, such
as a business group masquerading with a consumer name --
but the actual funders of the advertisement.
Mullin said he has received some resistance from social
media companies, but those discussions were before the
scandal in which it was revealed that personal information
of millions of Facebook users ended up in the hands of
Cambridge Analytica, a company that exploited that data to
foment divisions among the electorate and advance the
candidacy of Donald Trump.
â€œIf I were in a position in those
companies, I would get behind this bill to demonstrate that
here in their home state we are going to craft and work
with them and partner with them to create the toughest
disclosure recommendations for social media advertising in
the country,â€ Mullin said.
It remains to be seen whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,
fresh off a humbling two days of testimony in Washington,
D.C., will have the enlightened self-interest to recognize
the value of working with state legislators before they go
ahead without them -- and with the public cheering every
step of privacy protection.
â€œGiven what we know, I'm just not
comfortable with these (social media) platforms
self-regulating,â€ Mullin said.
â€œWe have to put some regulation and
strong language (on political advertising disclosure) into
This bill belongs on the must-do list in Sacramento.
See the article on San Francisco Chronicle website