This bill — known as the DETER Act — would punish foreign governments and their agents for interfering in U.S. elections by imposing sanctions. It establishes four “redlines” which would trigger retaliation if a foreign government or its agents: 1) Buy ads, including online ads, to influence an election; 2) Use social and traditional media to spread significant amounts of false information; 3) Hack and release or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails; or 4) Block or otherwise access to elections infrastructure, such as websites providing information on polling locations. It would also stipulate sanctions against Russia if it again meddles in a U.S. federal election, and require a plan for preventing such interference by China, Iran, North Korea, and any other country of significant concern.
If the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) determines that Russia once again interfered in an American federal election, this bill would require that a set of severe sanctions be implemented within 10 days of that determination. The sanctions would target major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, and metals and mining. Every senior Russian political figure or oligarch identified in the report required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Act would be blacklisted from entering the U.S. and have their assets frozen. The administration would also be required to work with the European Union to adopt a sanctions regime that broadens the impact.
Congress would also require the administration to produce deterrence strategies (including sanctions) for interference by China, Iran, North Korea, and other foreign governments of concern in U.S. elections within 90 days.
The bill’s full title is the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2018.