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Press Release

New York State Moves Forward on Online Political Spending Regulation

The Brennan Center commends New York State on bringing internet political ads under existing transparency rules that apply to broadcast communications.

April 2, 2018

New York, N.Y. – The Brennan Center for Justice commends New York State on passing the Democracy Protection Act into law as part of the 2018–2019 New York State budget. The Act updates campaign finance laws to bring internet political ads under existing transparency rules that apply to broadcast communications like TV and radio. Ian Vandewalker, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy program, issued the following statement:

“The New York Democracy Protection Act is a big step in the right direction, and a vast improvement in the state’s safeguards against foreign meddling in our elections. We are thrilled to see New York join the vanguard alongside Washington State in picking up the slack of Congress and the social media companies. The internet’s rapid development and the failure of regulation to keep up have created significant cracks in our defenses. The state’s Democracy Protection Act targets some of these gaps by updating the definition of election communications to include digital advertisements, increasing disclosure on internet political spending, and heightening transparency through a publicly available database of online political ads.
Given inaction from Congress and the social media companies, it’s essential for states to step up and set up infrastructure that can improve transparency nationwide. We now know that in 2016 internet ads were a crucial element of the multifaceted Russian effort to meddle in our elections, and we also know hostile foreign actors will be back to put these tactics to use again. We can and must close the door to secret foreign spending – and laws like New York’s Democracy Protection Act will make it easier to enforce much needed federal regulation down the road.”

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