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Penalize liars in media and online, congressman says

Ro Khanna, Renee DiResta, Darrell Issa. Photo: WSJ / Nikki Ritcher Photography

Rep. Darrell Issa, speaking at the Wall Street Journal's tech conference in Laguna Beach Monday, said the U.S. information system needs new ways to hold liars accountable — including journalists' anonymous sources and social-media disinformation providers.

What they're saying: "We have to have a result for the person who creates a lie, which we don't yet have,” said Issa.

  • The retiring congressman cited the example of anonymous sources who tell lies to journalists but have their identities protected.
  • He applied the same concern to lies spreading on social media. "If you’ve been hurt, and Facebook says, 'I'm immune,' then who is responsible and how do I get that data?” he later added, in reference to the Communications Decency Act's Section 230, which protects internet services from being liable for content posted by their users.
  • Issa acknowledged the complexities that both constitutional free speech and press guarantees and traditional libel laws bring to any effort to hold misinformation providers accountable.

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents part of Silicon Valley, disagreed with Issa, saying that he's "all for a messy democracy," if that's the result of protecting the freedom of speech.

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