“Our enemies are using foreign propaganda and disinformation against us and our allies, and so far the U.S. government has been asleep at the wheel. But today, the United States has taken a critical step towards confronting the extensive, and destabilizing, foreign propaganda and disinformation operations being waged against us by our enemies overseas.”
US Senator Rob Portman
On 23 December 2016, President Obama signed into law the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act. The new legislation is designed to counter foreign government propaganda.
The bill, which was introduced by Senators Portman and Murphy in March, will establish an interagency center housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government.
The Global Engagement Center
The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies.
The Center will develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations by U.S. enemies and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.
The legislation establishes a fund to help train local journalists and provide grants and contracts to NGOs, civil society organizations, think tanks, private sector companies, media organizations, and other experts outside the U.S. government with experience in identifying and analyzing the latest trends in foreign government disinformation techniques.
The plan will be funded in the amount of $160 million over two years.
Russia and China
The Russian government-owned broadcaster RT called the new law “ominous” and “controversial”, and said the US government was “itself pushing propaganda on its own domestic population”.
The Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post said the new legislation was aimed at China, as well as at Russia. The newspaper cited Chinese experts who warned that Washington and Beijing “could head down the slippery slope toward ideological confrontation” as a result of the new law. [Intelnews]
Freedom of Press
To many journalists, the creation of the a new information agency under the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” appears to be another worrisome development, as it comes in the wake of “fake news blacklist” recently disseminated by the Washington Post.
President Signs Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill into Law — Press Release