(WASHINGTON) — A former Homeland Security secretary said the fight against Russian election meddling should put internet companies rather than the government in charge of regulating content on social media.
Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama’s second term, told ABC News’ This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that he is concerned about government security agencies getting involved in “regulating free speech.”
“When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic,” Johnson said.
He said the onus should be on internet service providers to guard against the use of fake social media accounts or other means for trying to interfere in U.S. elections or politics.
“I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace,” the former Homeland Security secretary said. “We are a society of free speech, and we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.”
Johnson’s comments came after the special counsel probing alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election on Friday charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with violating the law with the intent of meddling with “U.S. elections and political processes.”
Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor who was formerly New Jersey governor and a federal prosecutor, said the indictment was “incredibly detailed and gave the American people, for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and damage Hillary Clinton.”
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