A Political Speech Crackdown

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from The Wall Street Journal,

The Honest Ads Act uses Russia as an excuse to stifle American debate..

Vladimir Putin continues his campaign to sow disorder in the U.S. political system, and Democrats continue to take the bait. Witness the campaign to use Russia’s interference in U.S. elections as a reason to crack down on free speech and press rights.

The political catalyst is the U.S. finding that Russian operatives used social-media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter , to pose as U.S. citizens or organizations in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. Investigators have found that the amount of Russian spending and posts was very small compared to overall campaign spending. But never underestimate the liberal quest for new campaign-finance laws.

In October Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar —joined by Republican speech regulator Sen. John McCain —introduced the Honest Ads Act. The bill would impose new disclaimer and reporting requirements on internet platforms that run paid advertising, from Facebook and Twitter to the online news sites of major newspapers and magazines or the Drudge Report. The disclosure requirements would essentially require digital platforms to publish the name of any American seeking to discuss political subjects through paid ads, a chilling standard.

The bill would also impose legal liabilities on sites if advertising from prohibited actors slip through. Media outlets and digital platforms could be held civilly or criminally responsible for content on their sites that doesn’t comply with Federal Election Commission legal requirements.

This is a breathtaking new standard and potentially unconstitutional …

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