Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday proposed implementing criminal and civil penalties for spreading election-related disinformation.
She laid out multiple ways she, as president, would work to stop the spread of false information online, specifically on social media. The plan comes after multiple U.S. intelligence agencies and special counsel Robert Mueller determined Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, mostly through the use of social media.
"As the 2020 election approaches, Russian disinformation is not the only threat we face online," Warren said in a news release. "The same tactics employed by the Russian government are just as easily accessible to domestic groups seeking to promote or oppose candidates and political or social issues."
Earlier this month, the elections czar of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that Russia won't be the only concern in the 2020 election -- China, Iran, North Korea and non-state "hacktivists" will also target American voters. Shelby Pierson said this year's efforts will be more sophisticated.
Among the key elements in her plan is to hold technology companies -- Facebook, Twitter, Google, TikTok and Reddit -- responsible for their roles in spreading disinformation. She called on each to take steps to fight false information by working with the government to share resources, clearly label state-created content, alert users to disinformation campaigns, create consequences for accounts that interfere with voting and open up data for research purposes.
Warren also called for clear consequences for those responsible for spreading disinformation.
"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," Warren said. "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."
For her own part, Warren promised her campaign won't knowingly spread false information or doctored images, promote content from fraudulent online accounts or allow staff or surrogates to do so.
"The stakes of this election are too high -- we need to fight the spread of false information that disempowers voters and undermines democracy. I'll do my part -- and I'm calling on my fellow candidates and big tech companies to do their part too."