WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) aimed at combating the use of social media by terrorists was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday.

“We must have a comprehensive strategy in place to counter online radicalization,” said Sen. Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “ISIS is growing, and the threat of homegrown terrorism is real. I’d like to thank Sens. Booker and Ernst for their hard work on this legislation. This bill is a necessary step in developing an effective counter narrative to ISIS recruitment and appeal.”

“I appreciated the opportunity to work with both Chairman Johnson and Senator Booker on this important bipartisan bill, which would require the Obama Administration to fulfill a promise they made in 2011 to develop a comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists’ use of social media,” said Senator Ernst.

“The digital battlefield is an important front in the fight against violent extremism. To keep America safe, we need to effectively counter the spread of violent extremist propaganda online,” Senator Booker said. “This legislation seeks to promote accountability and encourage greater cooperation to counter dangerous extremist narratives, while balancing this with the need to respect civil rights and civil liberties. Its committee passage is an important step forward and part of a broader strategy to combat extremism.”

The Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act of 2016 complements H.R. 3654, introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) in the House last year.

In December 2011, the Obama Administration released a “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States,” which made the following commitment: “[b]ecause of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization and leveraging technology to empower community resilience that considers: (1) the latest assessment of the role of the Internet; (2) the absence of clear national boundaries in online space and the relationship between international and domestic radicalization to violence; (3) relevant legal issues; and (4) the differing authorities and capabilities of departments and agencies.”

The Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act requires the president to prepare:

  • A report on terrorists’ and terrorist organizations’ use of social media and an evaluation of current government efforts to combat such use.
  • A comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists’ and terrorist organizations’ use of social media.

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