Booker, Johnson Legislation to Counter Violent Extremism Online and on Social Media Approved by Senate Homeland Security Committee
WASHINGTON, DC –Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)and Ron Johnson (R-WI)that seeks to strengthen the United States’ ability to counter the online recruitment efforts of violent extremists was approved by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today. The Countering Online Recruitment of Violent Extremists Act, S. 2418, was introduced in December 2015.
“The digital battlefield is an important front in the fight against violent extremism and we can’t ignore it. To keep America safe, we need to counter the efforts of terror groups to spread their propaganda online and recruit new followers,” Sen. Booker said. “This legislation seeks to build on the work already taking place at academic institutions around the US, including at Rutgers University, and encourage greater cooperation between the federal government, universities, and other organizations working to combat this growing threat. Today’s vote is a good step and part of a broader strategy to combat extremism.”
“Terrorists looking to recruit followers need to look no further than the internet and social media today,” Sen. Johnson said. “This bill provides the tools that government and the private sector need to work together to provide positive alternatives to the propaganda from terrorist organizations. We must do everything within our power to keep Americans safe and ensure that our enemies do not gain more ground.”
Specifically, the Countering Online Recruitment of Violent Extremists Act:
· Leverages existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resources to establish “CVE Labs” at academic institutions across the country, where students will develop and test new solutions to combat extremist propaganda through social media campaigns, mobile applications, and other technology-based solutions that appeal to young consumers of online content.
· Encourages cooperation among the Federal Government, institutions of higher education, philanthropic organizations, private sector entities, including technology companies, and nongovernmental organizations to enable solutions generated by the Labs for countering violent extremism to be brought to scale.
· Provides each participating student a CVE safety briefing by government officials during the program orientation.
· Requires a third party assessment of the impact of each CVE Lab.
· The authorization will end seven years after its enactment.
Last September, Sens. Booker and Johnson, along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), led a bipartisan letter urging President Obama to use the Global Youth Summit at the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly as an opportunity to focus global attention on the need to scale up efforts to combat ISIS and other violent extremists’ use of social media and digital platforms to recruit new members. Joining Booker, Johnson, and Ayotte on the letter were Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Full text of the letter can be viewed here.