Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren Wants To Make It a Crime To Give Out Fake Info About Voting

When politicians call to punish “disinformation,” we should worry about what that definition encompasses.

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The good news about the latest campaign plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) to make "big tech" the whipping boy for all our social strife is that it's not as horrifyingly bad as this CNBC tweet suggests:

Warren's plan does not go so far as to suggest criminal penalties for everything the government declares to be "disinformation," fortunately. But she does propose criminal and civil penalties for anybody who attempts to spread false information about the voting process. This comes directly from her plan released today to "Fight Digital Disinformation." Here's her actual proposal (emphasis hers):

Push to create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections: Voter suppression efforts of any kind offend basic American values. In both the 2016 and 2018 elections, online disinformation sought to depress voter turnout by telling people they could vote via text, giving people the wrong date for election day, and more. I will push for new laws that impose tough civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating this kind of information, which has the explicit purpose of undermining the basic right to vote.

That's the only part of her plan that calls for criminal penalties for speech. It's still bad and wrong, but not as awful as it could be. Warren links to a report from the Brennan Center about Russian-led online suppression campaigns that aren't just about deceiving voters but also encouraging them to "boycott" elections. That's not deception. That's a position—an opinion attempting to persuade. Would that also be a crime? That would be a problem here at Reason, given that Katherine Mangu-Ward regularly attempts to convince Americans that voting isn't actually all that important and our individual votes don't matter.

The rest of Warren's proposals are attempts to blame social media companies for not banning or punishing people for engaging in disinformation campaigns online and encouraging to do more and to both share more information and data between social media platforms in order to track disinformation campaigns, while also at the same time calling for them to protect users' privacy. And she'd like to see social media platforms do a better job of labeling content that is produced by state-owned media outlets. Warren is presenting this crusade as a boon for public discourse and democracy rather than a potential tool for government to control speech they don't like.

It's particularly rich coming from Warren, given that she's currently being accused of pushing a disinformation campaign that rival candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) privately told her that Americans wouldn't elect a woman president. Sanders insists he said no such thing. Warren's campaign is itself a reminder of the dangers of allowing powerful politicians to define what is and is not "disinformation" under the law.

Read Warren's plan here.

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  1. “When politicians call to punish “disinformation,” we should worry about”

    OK….

    “what that definition encompasses.”

    Aww no, and you almost had it.

  2. What’s the harm in tricking stupid people into not voting? Oh…nevermind.

  3. Every word out of Lizzie Warren’s mouth is disinformation.

    Lock her up!! Lock her up!! Lock her up!!

    1. Ah no, that would be analog disinformation.

      Only that disinformation from her tweets and Facebooks is digital.

    2. Yeah, I was thinking no one would be as bad as Hilly, but Senator ChugsALot is creeping into that territory.

  4. She is like the biggest busybody since my mother in law. Sheesh.

    1. You’re saying she should be censored?

      1. I think she said she’s a busybody. How did you get “you want her censored” from that?

  5. Every time I see her, I can’t get over how much she looks like the Grinch.

    1. +1 seasick crocodile

    2. The Grinch was not that skeevy.

      1. And he gave everything back.

    3. I think she looks like a squirrel.

    4. She’s a softer, gentler Janet Reno.

      1. She’d only burn those kids with natural gas.

        1. Renewable natural gas.

          My current fav oxymoron.

      2. She’s the Scolding Librarian…

  6. Congrefs shall pass no law…

  7. “In both the 2016 and 2018 elections, online disinformation sought to depress voter turnout by telling people they could vote via text, giving people the wrong date for election day, and more.”

    So what if you just tell them that they can turn any bathtub into a hot tub by dropping two hair dryers into it? That’s got nothing to do with the election process and those that try it aren’t going to be voting.

    1. That’s got nothing to do with the election process and those that try it aren’t going to be voting outside Chicago.

      FIFY

      1. +100000 (D votes)

  8. I do not typically resort to slippery slope arguments but attempting to criminalize “disinformation,” even moderately, cannot possibly lead to anything other than the eventual suppression by those in power of all political speech with which they disagree. I have no idea who Warren is trying to appeal to with this inane proposal.

    1. who Warren is trying to appeal to

      Blacks. They should feel insulted.

    2. At this point she’s just trying to appeal to the voices in her head.

    3. She’s fishing for Mayor Daley’s endorsement. The dead one.

    4. That’s easy. She is appealing to the Hard Left. And she is not doing a bad job of it. Don’t worry, the Media will provide her with plenty of cover and act like she never proposed anything like this ever.

      I can’t believe that even the Hard Left can stand her, I guess they don’t as they are going more for Bernie. She is like that 5th Grade English teach that talks down to you.

  9. Oh, I hadn’t heard this particular excuse for Hillary’s defeat – Democrats read some post by a Russian bot telling them to vote on the wrong day.

    1. Local talk show hosts often repeat the joke, “Republicans vote on Tuesday, Democrats vote on Wednesday.” Bonehead “activists” then scream about them “suppressing the vote”, because their contempt for minority voters causes them to suppose they’ll think the joke is serious.

  10. “If you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.”

    The defense rests.

  11. Warren wants to criminalize telling lies? She’s gonna be in jail in record speed if that’s the case.

    Question, does lying about what you’ll accomplish or support in office count as spreading disinformation about the voting process? Because I could make the case that you are putting out information to sway voters, which is part of the voting process. There’d be so many politicians in jail that we wouldn’t have space for the potheads

    1. “There’d be so many politicians in jail that we wouldn’t have space for the potheads”

      See? There is an upside.

    2. That is where your incorrect. She and her friends are allowed to lie, that is called propagandizing the audience, but it’s people she doesn’t like that can’t lie.

  12. Hillary Clinton was personally responsible for a large amount of Democratic Voter Suppression in 2016. What do we do about that?

    1. Good one.

  13. And she’d like to see social media platforms do a better job of labeling content that is produced by state-owned media outlets.

    To be fair, that would make it much easier to know which information one should ignore out of hand.

    1. Nonsense, comrade, great TV network Russia Today is not being biased, it tells truth about glorious Russian motherland!

  14. Push to create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections

    What about “disseminating false information” about how important your vote is? On the one hand, I’m hearing a lot of ads about how your one vote is critical to deciding elections; on the other, Reason (for example) has published essays about how it’s crazy to cast your meaningless vote. *Someone* has to go to prison!

  15. She can start by charging her Democratic opponent Mike Bloomberg. He sent a letter to voters in NC with this P.S. “North Carolina election law allows all registered voters, regardless of party registration, to vote in the Democratic Primary”

    That is not true.

    NC has closed primaries. A party can request to allow unaffiliated (independent) registered voters to vote in their primary, but that is opt-in. Otherwise, you can only vote in the primary of the party you are registered in. Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians allow unaffiliated voters to vote in their primaries. The Green and Constitution parties do not.

    1. Hmmm is this* possibly why the Constitution Party has nominated more libertarian candidates in the last few presidential elections than the Libertarian Party has?

      (*I thought the LP picked candidates by state and national conventions)

  16. I am okay with it as long as I am the only one that gets to decide what is disinformation. My first disinformation will be Elizabeth Warren claiming to be Native American. Ole Lizzy will be going to prison.

    1. As long as she gets furloughed one day out of every 1,024.

    2. I imagine insisting that Warren is in fact Native American would be more beneficial now because the woke are just ignoring it. If they’re forced to accept that she’s Tonto’s cousin they’ll fight back and claim she was appropriating culture.

    3. Liawatha: “I have Native American ancestors……Honest Injun!”

    4. the hilarious part is that she’s a neo-Nazi’s poster child for “the perfect Ayran” with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and inability to fucking logic.

  17. In principle, I’m not against it being a crime for media outlets and public officials to mislead on basic election details. For instance, if NYT intentionally misled readers to vote after election day then I do think there should be legal repercussions. Of course, the problem is I don’t trust Warren to limit it to such reasonable levels and am sure such policy would warp into a massive restriction on speech

  18. Do her lies regarding her ancestry qualify? Can we stick her sorry ass in the slammer about now?

  19. Google pay 350$ reliably my last pay check was $45000 working 9 hours out of consistently on the web. My increasingly youthful kinfolk mate has been averaging 19k all through continuous months and he works around 24 hours reliably…. Read more  

    1. Sorry, prostitution is illegal in my state.

      1. Best response ever to those kinds of posts.

  20. I hope all of you New Hampshirians turn out to vote for Liz in March

  21. “calls for criminal penalties for speech”

    If Conservatives are allowed to spew their lies, then I should be able to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre in order to get a better seat, or call in a bomb threat if I’m running late for a doctor’s appointment to hide the fact that I’m running late.

    I’d believe that Conservatives were sincere in their support of lying/fraud being free speech if they were also advocating that Bernie, the Conservative media of investing, Madoff be set free because he merely gave people his “opinion” that they would get their money back if they invested it with him.

    1. If Conservatives are allowed to spew their lies, then I should be able to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre in order to get a better seat, or call in a bomb threat if I’m running late for a doctor’s appointment to hide the fact that I’m running late.

      “NoT puTTinG an IrON fIsT aRoUNd InTeRNet cONtEnT IS aUThoriTARianISm!”

  22. And who will determine what information shall be deemed fake info?
    “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” Daniel Webster

  23. what if i just post a lot of information about how your vote doesn’t matter?

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