A quick skim of the bill reveals “Title V—Matters relating to foreign countries”, whose Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”
The section lists the following definitions of media manipulation:
- Establishment or funding of a front group.
- Covert broadcasting.
- Media manipulation.
- Disinformation and forgeries.
- Funding agents of influence.
- Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
- Terrorist acts.
As ActivistPost correctly notes, it is easy to see how this law, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, could be used to target, threaten, or eliminate so-called “fake news” websites, a list which has been used to arbitrarily define any website, or blog, that does not share the mainstream media’s proclivity to serve as the Public Relations arm of a given administration.
Curiously, the bill which was passed on November 30, was introduced on November 22, two days before the Washington Post published its Nov. 24 article citing “experts” who claim Russian propaganda helped Donald Trump get elected.
As we reported last week, in an article that has been widely blasted, the WaPo wrote that “two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.”
The newspaper cited PropOrNot, an anonymous shonky website that posted a hit list of alternative media websites, including Hang The Bankers, Zero Hedge, Drudge Report, Activist Post, Blacklisted News, the Ron Paul Report, and many others. Glenn Greenwald penned an appropriate response two days later in “Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group.”
PropOrNot has pushed a conspiratorial thesis, without any actual proof, that the listed websites have been either used directly or covertly by the Russians to spread propaganda.
While the bill passed the House with a sweeping majority, it is unknown if and when the bill will work its way through the Senate and be passed into law, although one would think that it has far higher chances of passing under president Obama than the President-Elect. It is also unclear if it will be used to shut down websites anonymously characterized as “useful idiots” or subversive elements used in disseminating supposed Russian propaganda.
Those interested can read the full “H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017″ at the following location” bill that may soon proclaim much of the internet to be criminal “Russian propaganda” at the following link.