Daily Media Links 5/12

May 12, 2022   •  By Tiffany Donnelly   •  
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In the News

WRAL: Hines’ challenge raises question: If a robot quotes accurately, is an ad deceitful?

By Bryan Anderson

A challenge to a Triangle political ad is placing the spotlight on whether emerging technology, even if being used to accurately quote a candidate, is unfit to air.

With the May 17 primary nearing, Republican political newcomer Bo Hines is seeking to have an ad taken off the airwaves that his campaign considers highly misleading.

The 26-year-old’s campaign in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District said it issued cease-and-desist letters late Wednesday to several news outlets, including WRAL-TV, seeking to have an ad removed that portrays Hines as a liberal. The campaign’s reasoning: Hines’ own words appeared to be stated by a robotic depiction of him—but not him…

Alex Baiocco, policy analyst at the Institute for Free Speech, wrote in January that laws regulating or prohibiting deepfakes in political speech could violate the First Amendment. Instead, state defamation laws could better protect someone harmed by potentially manipulated content.

New from the Institute for Free Speech

California Group Sues San Francisco Over 32-Second Ad Disclaimer

Want to advertise to San Francisco voters? Before starting your message, the city could force you to spend over 30 seconds reciting publicly available donor information. Today, a California ballot committee represented by attorneys from the Institute for Free Speech challenged the city’s rules as a violation of the First Amendment.

“A 32-second disclaimer is not a disclaimer at all. It’s a whole new ad that makes it impossible to communicate our message with voters. This law discourages political dialogue at the very time that we need voters to be civically engaged,” said Todd David, Founder and Treasurer of San Franciscans Supporting Prop B (SPB).

Instead of reserving a small portion of an ad to announce the speaker’s identity, as most jurisdictions do, San Francisco’s disclaimer law forces speakers to make the government’s message the focal point of their ads. Groups are required to recite a lengthy disclaimer naming their donors—and their donors’ donors—at the start of audio and video ads. It’s hard to think of a more boring way to start a message. Groups must list the names and donation amounts of their top three contributors, and if any of those contributors is another political committee, they must also list that group’s top two contributors…

To read the complaint, click here. For future updates, check back here.

The Courts

Axios: Appeals court lets Texas social media law take effect

By Shawna Chen

A Texas law aimed at punishing social media companies if they “censor” users will go into effect for now, a three-person panel of federal appeals court judges ruled on Wednesday.

The move, which stays a lower court order that temporarily blocked the law, is a win for Republicans who claim social media companies have waged a campaign to silence conservative ideas and beliefs…

Wednesday’s decision was supported by two unnamed judges who did not immediately provide the court’s reasoning.


Fox News: Whistleblowers: FBI targeted parents via terrorism tools despite Garland’s testimony that it didn’t happen

By Bradford Betz

Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Johnson say they have evidence that the FBI targeted parents who protested schools’ COVID policies despite assurances from Attorney General Merrick Garland that it never happened. 

In a letter addressed to the Justice Department, Jordan and Johnson said they have evidence that the FBI labeled dozens of investigations into parents with a threat tag created by the bureau’s Counterterrorism Division to assess and track investigations related to school boards. The evidence comes from “brave whistleblowers” within the Department of Justice, they say in the letter addressed to Attorney General Garland…

The lawmakers cited several examples where someone reported a parent, or a state elected official using the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center. 

In one investigation, FBI officials interviewed a mom for allegedly telling a school board member “we are coming for you.” The person reported the mom because she belonged to a “right wing mom’s group” called “Moms for Liberty” and because she is a gun owner. FBI officials eventually determined this mom was not a threat…

Jordan and Johnson said these investigations were a direct result of Garland’s Oct. 4 directive to the FBI.

Washington Post (The Technology 202): Big Tech would get its own regulator under new Senate bill

By Cat Zakrzewski

Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) is set to unveil a new bill that would establish a five-person commission tasked with protecting consumers in the age of Big Tech. According to a copy of the bill that Bennet shared exclusively with The Technology 202, the commission would be able to interrogate the algorithms that power major tech platforms and set new rules to force greater transparency of social media…

The commission would have broad authority to craft new regulations forcing greater transparency at tech companies. 

The commission would be tasked with creating rules to ensure large tech companies are transparent about their content moderation rules, as well as requirements for regular public risk assessments about the violent or hateful content circulating on their services. It would establish a “Code Council” made up of technologists and public interest experts to create technical standards and policies for the commission to consider, as well as a research office that would conduct internal research and coordinate with outside academics to study the companies.

But it has very low odds of passing in this Congress.

Breitbart: Exclusive — House Republicans Demand Answers About Biden’s ‘Disinformation Governance Board’

By Jordan Dixon-Hamilton

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is leading an inquiry into whether President Joe Biden’s “Disinformation Governance Board” is pressuring big tech companies to increase their surveillance and censorship of conservative users, according to a letter exclusively obtained by Breitbart News.

The New Republic: Josh Hawley Joins the GOP’s Fight Against Disney in the Goofiest Way Possible

By Matt Ford

On Tuesday, Hawley introduced the Copyright Clause Restoration Act, a brief three-page bill that would have serious implications for some corporate-held copyrights if enacted…

Hawley’s proposal is unambiguously designed to target Disney for the company’s political speech and ideological stances. In addition to reducing the copyright period for any future works, the shortened window would apply retroactively to works held by U.S. companies with a market capitalization of more than $150 billion—a condition that, for practical purposes, would only apply to Disney. To underscore the bill’s retributive nature, Hawley’s office announced it by saying it would “strip Disney of special copyright protections.” The bill stands no chance of becoming law under the current Congress and would almost certainly fall to a filibuster even if the GOP retakes both chambers this fall.

Candidates and Campaigns

Politico: The Esoteric Social Movement Behind This Cycle’s Most Expensive House Race

By Ian Ward

On the campaign trail, however, Flynn has had to contend not with deadly robots but with his own type of boogeyman: His largest donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, the eccentric 30-year-old cryptocurrency billionaire who is chief donor to a PAC that has given over $10 million to Flynn’s campaign.

Bankman-Fried’s support for Flynn has baffled outside observers and energized Flynn’s opponents, who have cast the billionaire’s intervention as a shady effort by a carpetbagging crypto-baron to influence cryptocurrency regulation in Washington…

But this focus on Bankman-Fried’s background in crypto has obscured another — and even stranger — element of the billionaire’s support. Both Flynn and Bankman-Fried are adherents of a niche philosophy known as “effective altruism,” which advocates using quantitative analyses and evidence-based reasoning to maximize social good and mitigate long-term threats to humanity…

For his part, Flynn says that he agrees with his critics that campaign finance is in serious need of an overhaul and says he would support a campaign finance reform bill if elected.

“My feelings on campaign finance reform before getting involved in politics were that it was really important and that it [was] not well done. Having seen it up close, it is so much worse than I expected,” says Flynn. “All I can do is work within the domain of influence that I have and try and use that as best I can to get a good outcome.”

The States

Orlando Sentinel: Mystery group behind ads in ‘20 Central Florida primary must reveal donors, judge rules

By Annie Martin

A group that sent attack ads in a Central Florida state Senate primary without disclosing its donors, listing only a $250,000 “starting balance” in its reports to the state, must reveal its contributors and make its chairman available for a deposition, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Though political committees are required to list their contributions publicly, Floridians for Equality and Justice reported just one contribution to the Florida Division of Elections, a $249,925 “starting balance” from a dark money nonprofit organization of the same name.

OPB: Rich donors take major advantage of a loophole in Portland’s public campaign financing system

By Rebecca Ellis

The ability to give unlimited amounts to political action committees is, this year’s election shows, a fundamental loophole in the city’s efforts to curb campaign spending — and, in the process, broaden who can run for office. A side-by-side comparison of campaign finance records for Mozyrsky and Portland United shows the extent to which PACs threaten to undermine the small donor program, allowing candidates to claim they support donation limits while rich donors, ostensibly limited to $250 donations, continue to utilize their deep pockets to shape the political process.

Tiffany Donnelly

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