Gottheimer Seeks to Strengthen Protections Against Terrorist Activity on Social Media

September 10, 2020 by Daniel Londono
Rep. Josh Gottheimer

Rep. Josh Gottheimer wants to hold social media platforms accountable when terrorist organizations use their website portals to raise funds and spread propaganda.

A proposal by the New Jersey Democrat, the Online Arsenal to Combat Foreign Terrorist Organizations, would fine Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms for knowingly permitting terrorist organizations to use their pages.

The proposal also calls for aggressive action against terrorist organizations who use cryptocurrency to finance impending attacks.

Gottheimer unveiled his proposal during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

He was joined on the Zoom call by Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; Ed Donnelly, president of the N.J. Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association; and Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

During the call, which came just days before the annual commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Gottheimer acknowledged that foreign terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda are still very much a concern for the nation, but said domestic terror is a growing concern.

Jared Maples agreed.

“The white supremacist movement has really risen to the point that in New Jersey we’re the very first state or public entity to name them as a top tier terrorist threat,” he said.

“Traditionally Hamas and ISIS and some of the other terrorist groups have used cryptocurrency and social media platforms to recruit, launch attacks and fundraise. But now we’re starting to see that from white supremacist aligned groups, so we’re starting to see a comingling between the two,” Maples said.

Gottheimer, portions of whose district overlook lower Manhattan, site of the destroyed Twin Towers, has long been an advocate of the nation doing all it can to prevent a future terrorist attack in the United States.

Among the bills he’s proposed toward this end are:

  • The FASTER ACT, which would give law enforcement the ability to freeze the assets of suspected terrorists;
  • The Saracini Enhanced Aviation Safety Act, which calls for the installation of secondary cockpits barriers on airplanes to help prevent a possible takeover; and
  • The Never Forget the Heroes Act, which ensures support for 9/11 survivors and first responders who have suffered injuries and financial stress as a result of the attacks.

“There is simply no reason why terrorist organizations that have killed countless Americans and our allies, deserve access to social media platforms to promote themselves as sponsors of violent, radical, hate-filled extremism,” Gottheimer said.

Josh Gottheimer’s press conference can be seen here.

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