Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship Hosts Briefing on Safeguarding Digital Democracy with the German Marshall Fund
Washington, July 7, 2020
Washington, DC -- Today, the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship hosted a briefing for Members and staff featuring a presentation from the German Marshall Fund to discuss their recent report, “Safeguarding Digital Democracy: Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative Roadmap.” The presentation was led by two authors of the report, Karen Kornbluh and Ellen P. Goodman.
"The dangers of disinformation are real and urgent, yet we remain woefully unequipped to confront the impacts of this threat to our democratic institutions,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, founder of the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship. “I am grateful to the German Marshall Fund for leading our discussion today on policy recommendations to combat disinformation and safeguard our democracy, particularly in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis and upcoming national election. The Members of the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship have been raising the alarm on this issue, and we will continue to seek solutions that stop the spread of disinformation and protect the integrity of our democracy."
"Disinformation is an existential challenge to democracy and pandemic response. Thank you Rep. Wexton for convening congressional leaders on digital policy to discuss how to protect and strengthen our civic infrastructure,” said Ellen Goodman and Karen Kornbluh.
The Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund works to ensure technology strengthens democracy in the world today. The report presented during the Task Force’s briefing examines the work that must be done to prepare our democratic institutions to respond to the dangers of disinformation campaigns. The Members and the panelists discussed policy recommendations that were detailed in the report, including strengthening offline protections, supporting independent and local news, holding social media platforms accountable, establishing data transparency, and more. The full “Safeguarding Digital Democracy” report can be found here.
The Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship was launched in April 2020 to promote policies that encourage good digital citizenship, which is the responsible use of technology when engaging with society, while providing a new forum to offer resources for families and begin an ongoing discussion on healthy and responsible online behavior. Since its founding, the Task Force has hosted events on how families can practice good digital citizenship during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how to manage screen time and responsibly engage with others online.
As founder of the Task Force on Digital Citizenship, Wexton has prioritized legislative efforts to protect Americans from disinformation online. Congresswoman Wexton introduced legislation to incentivize new research into technology that would detect deepfakes and authored an amendment to help improve the public’s understanding and detection of deepfakes. During a Financial Services Committee hearing, Wexton also pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the platform’s disinformation policies. Most recently, Wexton authored a key provision of the Heroes Act to commission a study to examine COVID-19 disinformation and misinformation online and on social media.
In addition to Wexton, the briefing was attended by Task Force co-founders Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Bill Foster (D-IL).
Learn more about the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship here.