U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) introduced legislation to combat the threat of disinformation during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The increased use of deepfakes, manipulated media, and online bots to spread disinformation has become an emerging homeland security threat. The Protecting Against Public Safety Disinformation Act of 2020 would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to analyze these threats and help local public health and safety professionals mitigate the impact of disinformation in their communities.
“Disinformation poses a grave threat to our national security, elections, and public health in communities across the country,” Underwood said. “During an emergency like a health pandemic, it is critically important that people get accurate information about how to keep themselves and their families safe. We have already seen efforts by foreign adversaries to take advantage of this crisis by spreading dangerous falsehoods about the disease. The Protecting Against Public Safety Disinformation Act will help state and local public health and safety officials mitigate the impact of disinformation in their communities so we can keep our families safe and healthy.”
The bill would also ensure that state and local public health officials, first responders, and emergency managers have access to those assessments and recommendations. Plus, DHS would be required to report on its findings to Congress.
“The proliferation of disinformation – whether on public health information or our elections – is a clear national security threat. When we face an emergency, it is imperative we ensure the truth gets through. The Federal government must do more to combat the misinformation threat and help states and localities do the same. I applaud Congresswoman Underwood for introducing this timely legislation,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said.