Wednesday, April 18 - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York State’s Democracy Protection Act into law, at Cardozo School of Law with Dean Melanie Leslie, Yeshiva University President Dr. Ari Berman, renowned First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, students, and faculty looking on. 

The new law will require greater transparency for digital political advertisements during New York elections.

All political advertisements online must disclose who paid for the communication. The legislation would also require that a person or entity register as an independent expenditure committee, with the state board of elections prior to purchasing an internet or digital ad, that otherwise qualifies as an independent expenditure and targets 50 or more people.

The law will additionally prohibit any foreign national, government, instrumentality or agent from registering as an independent expenditure committee, and provide that upon purchase of an independent expenditure, each TV and radio station and internet platform must require that the independent expenditure committee making the purchase provide a copy of the registration form filed by the committee with the state board of election. The legislation also provides for a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation for the failure of a TV or radio station or internet platform to comply with the new requirements.

Governor Cuomo said that right now, “we have a toxic cocktail…the explosion and anonymity of social media, the targeting of social media…and the access by foreign entities to these online platforms.” Current law, he said, hasn’t caught up to the technology but the new legislation will change that. “Our law in New York state now says social media must comply with the same disclosure requirements that any other media broadcast must comply with,” said Governor Cuomo. He’s optimistic that the law’s impact will spread throughout the country, prompting other states to adopt similar measures. “We’re going to show today that reform is possible…mark my words, we’re going to change the law in the nation.”

To view the press conference and bill signing, click here.