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HR 4617 - Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act - National Key Vote

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Legislation - Bill Passed (House) (227-181) - (Key vote)
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Title: Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act

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Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that requires political campaigns to report offers of assistance by foreign governments and ensure online political advertisements are subject to the same rules as TV and radio ads.

Highlights:

 

  • Prohibits any person from communicating or producing, by means of written, electronic, or telephonic communications, the following types of information, if that person knows such information to be false or has the intention to mislead voters or prevent another person from exercising the right to vote in an election (Sec. 312):

    • The time or place of an election; and

    • The qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility for an election, including:

      • Any criminal penalties associated with voting in an election; or 

      • Information regarding a voter’s registration status or eligibility.

  • Specifies that anyone who violates the above highlight will be fined up to $100,000, imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both (Sec. 312).

  • Prohibits a foreign national from directing, dictating, controlling, or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process of any person with regard to such person’s federal or non-federal election-related activity, including any decision concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with an election for any federal, state, or local office, or any decision concerning the administration of a political committee (Sec. 201).

  • Requires each political committee to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) of reportable foreign contact, and provide a summary of the reportable foreign contact, no later than 1 week after the reportable foreign contact occurs (Sec. 101).

  • Requires, no later than 3 days after a reportable foreign contact (Sec. 101):

    • Each candidate or an immediate family member of a candidate to notify the treasurer or other designated official of the campaign committee and provide a summary of the circumstances of the reportable foreign contact; and 

    • Each official, employee, or agent of a political committee to notify the treasurer or other designated official of the committee of the reportable foreign contact and provide a summary of the circumstances of the reportable foreign contact. 

  • Defines “reportable foreign contact” as any direct or indirect contact or communication that (Sec. 101):

    • Is between 

      • A candidate, an immediate family member of the candidate, political committee, or any official, employee, or agent of such committee; and 

      • An individual that the person knows, has reason to know, or reasonably believes is a covered foreign national;

    • The person knows, has reason to know, or reasonably believes involves

      • An offer or other proposal for a contribution, donation, expenditure, disbursement, or solicitation; and 

      • Coordination or collaboration with, an offer or provision of information or services to or from, or persistent and repeated contact with, a covered foreign national in connection with an election. 

  • Expands the definition of the term “public communication” to include satellite, paid internet, or paid digital communication (Sec. 113).

  • Requires qualified internet or digital communication to do the following in a clear and conspicuous manner (Sec. 115):

    • State the name of the person who paid for the communication; and 

    • Provide a means for the recipient of the communication to obtain the remainder of the information required with minimal effort and without receiving or viewing any additional material.

  • Defines “qualified internet or digital communication” as any communication which is placed or promoted for a fee on an online platform (Sec. 114).

  • Specifies that a communication does not make a statement in a clear and conspicuous manner if it is difficult to read or hear, or if the placement is easily overlooked (Sec. 115).

  • Specifies that if a candidate or an individual affiliated with a candidate’s campaign, or if a political committee or an individual affiliated with a political committee, provides or offers to provide non-public campaign material to a covered foreign national or to another person whom the candidate, committee, or individual knows or has reason to know will provide the material to a covered foreign national, the candidate, committee, or individual will be considered to have solicited a contribution or donation from a foreign national (Sec. 301).

  • Defines “individual affiliated with a political committee” as an employee or independent contractor of the committee, or any individual who performs paid or unpaid services on behalf of the committee (Sec. 301).

  • Specifies that any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of this act will be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned up to 5 years, or both (Sec. 103).

  • Specifies that any person who knowingly and willfully conceals or destroys any materials relating to a reportable foreign contact, will be fined up to $1 million, imprisoned up to 5 years, or both (Sec. 103).

  • Requires an online platform to maintain and make available for online public inspection in machine-readable format, a complete record of any request to purchase, on the online platform, a qualified political advertisement made by a person whose aggregate requests exceeds $500 during a calendar year (Sec. 116).

  • Requires any person who requests to purchase a qualified political advertisement on an online platform, to provide the online platform with information necessary to comply with the above highlight (Sec. 116).

  • Requires records pertaining to the above two highlights to contain the following (Sec. 116):

    • A digital copy of the qualified political advertisement; 

    • A description of the audience targeted by the advertisement, the number of views generated from the advertisement, and the date and time that the advertisement is first displayed and last displayed; and

    • Information regarding:

      • The average rate charged for the advertisement;

      • The name of the candidate to which the advertisement refers and the office sought by the candidate, the election to which the advertisement refers, or the national legislative issue to which the advertisement refers;

      • In the case of a request made by, or on behalf of a candidate, the name of the candidate, the authorized committee of the candidate, and the treasurer of such committee; and 

      • The name of the person purchasing the advertisement, the name and address of a contact person for such person, a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee, or the board of directors or such person, and, if the person purchasing the advertisement is acting as an agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a statement that the person is acting as the agent of a foreign principal and the identification of the foreign principal involved.

  • Defines “online platform” as any public-facing website, web application, or digital application, including a social network or search engine which sells qualified political advertisements and has 50 million or more unique monthly US visitors or users for a majority of months during the preceding year (Sec. 116).

  • Defines “qualified political advertisement” as any advertisement made by or on behalf of a candidate, or communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance including a candidate, an election to a federal office, or a national legislative issue of public importance (Sec. 116).

  • Requires each political committee to establish a policy that provides for the retention and preservation of records and information related to reportable foreign contacts for no less than a 3-year period (Sec. 102).

Legislation - Introduced (House) -

Title: Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act

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