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Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Sens. Peters, Klobuchar and Reed introduce bill to counter COVID-19 misinformation

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U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) has introduced a bill that would create a COVID-19 Misinformation & Disinformation Task Force to counter the rising misinformation and disinformation related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The task force will be charged with coordinating the government’s analysis and response to false and misleading information that conflicts with official government health guidance and pandemic response efforts. Misinformation and disinformation have become so widespread that the World Health Organization has labeled it an “infodemic.”

“At a time when most Michiganders and Americans are receiving their information about the Coronavirus pandemic online, combating disinformation and misinformation is crucial to ensuring that everyone can follow appropriate health guidance and stay safe,” Peters said. “This commonsense legislation will create a coordinated response to safeguard Americans against bad actors who seek to mislead the public about the most effective ways to protect ourselves from this highly contagious virus.”

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jack Reed (D-RI) also introduced the bill with Peters.

“Adversaries continue to target our democracy with sophisticated information campaigns designed to divide Americans and undermine our political system. Experts, including the World Health Organization, have reported an increase in misinformation and disinformation during the pandemic,” Klobuchar said. “One of the best ways we can fight back is to give people the tools they need to identify false information. This bill would establish a task force at the Department of Homeland Security that would help coordinate the analysis of false information and develop tools to help Americans combat it.”

The bill would create a COVID-19 Misinformation & Disinformation Task Force led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA). The Task Force would consist of representatives from federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Task Force would create an awareness campaign to help inform the public of the risks of misinformation and disinformation related to the pandemic. It will also show misinformation can also be spread unintentionally.