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Reps. Maloney, Eshoo, & Sen. Schatz Introduce Bill to Combat Census Disinformation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Brian Schatz introduced a bicameral bill today to ban all forms of disinformation about the Census.

“The U.S. Census is a crucial part of our democracy that ensures Americans are fairly represented and receive their fair share of 1.5 trillion in annual federal funding.  Unfortunately, there are bad actors who purposefully push false information about the Census to discourage participation and skew the results,” said Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to curb disinformation and protect the Census.”

“America’s founders included the decennial Census in the Constitution because a representative democracy depends on an accurate count of its people. The Honest Census Communications Act ensures that any attempt to intentionally spread lies about the once-in-a-decade count is met with severe consequences befitting this crime,” said Eshoo.

“In 2020, we saw disinformation about the census everywhere. It ranged from who can participate to how the information would be used, and all of it was meant to stop people from being counted. Our bill will help stop false information from spreading and protect the constitutionally mandated census from any attempts to disrupt it,” said Senator Schatz.

The Honest Census Communications Act would outlaw communicating false information about the Census using written, digital, or telephonic communications in order to impede or prevent others from participating in the Census. Violators can be fined up to $11,181 per communication (the amount available under the False Claims Act), imprisoned for up to five years, or both. While the legislation is necessary to prevent harmful interference in future decennial counts, its protections also apply to other federal censuses, including the U.S. Economic Census which will take place next year.

 

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