Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after Facebook announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump from the platform: 

“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough. Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms. As I have continually said, these platforms have served as core organizing infrastructure for violent, far right groups and militia movements for several years now – helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and in many cases (particularly with respect to YouTube) generate profits from their violent, extremist content.” 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement:

“The Georgia Senate results are good news for Americans tired of Washington dysfunction; a Democratic majority will undoubtedly make it easier for President Biden to govern.

“In the coming Congress, I’ll remain committed – as I always have – to working with anyone from any party who wants to put forth innovative ideas that expand opportunity for American families and help our nation emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before. Virginians can also trust that I will do everything in my power to ensure that that the slim margins we now face are cause for more bipartisan solutions, not the same old Washington gridlock.”

With Democrats in the Senate majority, Sen. Warner is expected to take the gavel as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor this evening just hours after a mob of Trump supporters breached and stormed the U.S. Capitol in an act of insurrection. 

In remarks delivered after Congress resumed its count of electoral college votes, Sen. Warner warned his Senate colleagues about the national security implications of calling into question the validity of one of the most secure elections in the modern history.

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Warner said, “What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections. Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries.”

Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy,” he continued. “You can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries.”

Concluded Sen. Warner, “God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy.”

 

The full text of Sen. Warner’s remarks appears below:

Mr. President, I think like most of us, I'm still pretty reeling from what happened today. 

What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections. 

Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries. 

Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy. 

I was going to try in a feeble way to maybe reach some of the rhetorical heights of Ben Sasse and I knew I couldn't do that. So instead – I know I'm violating rules here, today is the day for violating rules [holds up cell phone image] – this is a photo that appeared today on one of the most prominent German newspapers. 

You don't need to – you can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries. 

God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy. But remember, these images will still endure. I yield back.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, issued the statement below after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) released a joint statement attributing the SolarWinds hack to Russia:

“It’s unfortunate that it has taken over three weeks after the revelation of an intrusion this significant for this Administration to finally issue a tentative attribution. I would hope that we will begin to see something more definitive, along with a more public pronouncement of U.S. policy towards indiscriminate supply chain infiltrations of this sort in the future. We need to make clear to Russia that any misuse of compromised networks to produce destructive or harmful effects is unacceptable and will prompt an appropriately strong response.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“Multiple courts and state legislatures have found that there is no evidence to support allegations of substantial fraud in the 2020 election. Continued efforts on the part of so many Republican senators to enable the undemocratic temper tantrum of a decisively defeated president only serve to undermine faith in the security and sanctity of our elections and represent everything our country’s Founders warned against. I urge my colleagues in the strongest possible terms to reconsider the likely consequences of their actions, for I fear they will do damage to our democracy and our global credibility that cannot be easily repaired.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Senate voted to override President Trump’s veto of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

“Today, I voted to override the President’s veto of the NDAA. This annual defense bill is critical to U.S. national security. Failure to pass it would jeopardize our country’s military readiness and national defense, cybersecurity, the well-being of our U.S. service members and their families, and more. The stakes are just too high to risk further delay.

The FY21 NDAA, which passed through the Senate earlier this month, contains a number of Warner-led provisions, including ones to combat illicit finance, prioritize U.S. innovation and technology development in 5G and semiconductors, protect military families, create a more diverse Pentagon workforce, enable greater SCIF flexibility, fund the procurement of a second Virginia-class submarine, and expand the list of service-connected presumptive conditions related to Agent Orange exposure. 

Earlier this week, the House voted 322-87 to override President Trump’s veto of the NDAA. Following today’s Senate vote, the bill will become law. 

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Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) applauded the upcoming passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (IAA) as part of the bipartisan, targeted COVID-19 relief package. The bill, which was approved by the Committee on a bipartisan 14 - 1 vote on June 8, 2020 and passed the Senate on July 23, 2020 as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community.

“Recent events make it all too clear that our nation continues to face ever-expanding threats from hostile foreign actors, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” Rubio said. “It is vital that our Intelligence Community has the necessary resources, authorities, and personnel to protect America’s national security, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s strong, bipartisan legislation does just that. Our bill also increases government efficiency and represents comprehensive Congressional oversight to ensure that these tools are executed responsibly and cost-effectively.” 

“I am happy to say that the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 was included in the compromise legislation. The IAA ensures that the women and men of America’s Intelligence Community have the tools and resources they need to keep our country safe, and to ensure that decision makers are presented with the best intelligence, regardless of fear or favor. Passage of the IAA also ensures that Congress fulfills its mission of providing robust oversight of the nation’s intelligence agencies. This bipartisan bill includes key measures to improve our national security and America’s technological edge,” Warner said.

Background: 

The IAA for Fiscal Year 2021 ensures that the Intelligence Community can continue its critical work for our country while Congress continues its oversight, including in the following key areas:

  • Deterring and uncovering core threats from China and Russia, by identifying their corruption, influence operations, and information suppression; 
  • Countering our adversaries’ attempts to compromise telecommunications and cybersecurity technology, and requiring complex, extensive assessments of our current critical technologies and their supply chains; 
  • Strengthening open source intelligence capabilities for improved collection and analysis across the entire Intelligence Community;
  • Enhancing recruitment and hiring for our Intelligence Community, by giving the agencies the resources and tools they need to advance their talented workforce that protects our nation day in and day out; and
  • Ensuring accountability and integrity from our Intelligence Community agencies, which undertake our most sensitive intelligence programs and activities. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement:

“The SolarWinds hack is a devastating breach of U.S. networks and once again shows that the President and the White House are not taking this issue seriously enough.  An incident of this magnitude and lasting impact requires an engaged and public response by the U.S. government, led by a President who understands the significance of this intrusion and who is actively marshaling a domestic remediation strategy and an international response. 

“As we learn about the wider impact of this malign effort – with the potential for wider compromise of critical global technology vendors and their products – it is essential that we see an organized and concerted federal response. It is extremely troubling that the President does not appear to be acknowledging, much less acting upon, the gravity of this situation.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the SolarWinds supply chain attack:

“As we learned in the NotPetya attacks, software supply chain attacks of this nature can have devastating and wide-ranging effects – whether it’s via niche Ukrainian tax software or, as here, network management tools relied upon by some of the world’s largest companies. As we gather more information on the impact and goals of these malign efforts, we should make clear that there will be consequences for any broader impact on private networks, critical infrastructure, or other sensitive sectors.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today applauded the inclusion of the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bipartisan USA Telecommunications Act seeks to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G by providing funds to support research and development in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE.

“For too long we’ve called for our allies and trading partners to reject Huawei digital infrastructure – without providing competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that address their needs. I’m pleased to see my bipartisan, bicameral legislation included in this year’s defense funding bill,” said Sen. Warner. “I look forward to working with Senate appropriators next year to ensure that these programs – which advance major national security priorities – receive full funding in the coming year.”

“It is in our national security interests to support American competition in the 5G market and take action to counter efforts by Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies to dominate wireless technology supply chains,” Sen. Rubio said. “I was proud to secure this critical provision in the FY21 NDAA conference report that will support the development of an innovative 5G wireless network that leverages American strengths and creates American jobs in the industries of the future without relying on malign Chinese state-directed actors like Huawei and ZTE.”

The USA Telecommunications Act was introduced in January by Sens. Warner and Rubio along with Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and John Cornyn (R-TX). The legislation will reassert U.S. and Western leadership by encouraging competition with Huawei that capitalizes on U.S. software advantages, accelerating development of an open-architecture model (known as Open-RAN) that would allow for alternative vendors to enter the market for specific network components, rather than having to compete with Huawei end-to-end.

The USA Telecommunications Act is one of several of Sen. Warner’s national security priorities that were included in the final defense bill, among them the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act, which requires shell companies – often used as fronts for criminal activity – to disclose their true owners to the U.S. Department of Treasury, and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, which will restore semiconductor manufacturing back to American soil by increasing federal incentives to stimulate advanced chip manufacturing.

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WASHINGTONToday, five lawmakers in leadership roles of House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over misinformation sent President-elect Biden a letter recommending that his COVID-19 response include a focus on misinformation.

The lawmakers are Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA); House Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA); House Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

“We write to recommend that you incorporate a focus on misinformation within your broader COVID-19 response, including by adding a leading misinformation studies expert to the Task Force,” wrote the lawmakers. “The COVID-19 infodemic is about to dangerously intersect with a misinformation-laden anti-vaccine movement that has led to tragic consequences in our country.”

“While we’re optimistic a vaccine will aid our country in short order, we worry that misinformation threatens the success of a national vaccine program. A decade of misinformation on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, propelled in recent years by social media platforms, has laid the foundation for skepticism and opposition towards the COVID-19 vaccines. In November, four in ten Americans said they would not agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if an FDA-approved vaccine was available at no cost,” the law makers continued.

“These concerns motivate us to urge you to add a member to the Task Force who has a deep understanding of misinformation, including its causes, exacerbating factors, and ways to combat it. Professor Joan Donovan is ideally situated for the role. She is one of the world’s leading scholars of misinformation,” the lawmakers wrote. “Professor Donovan also has a background in health and life sciences and has recently been studying COVID-19 misinformation.”

You can read the full text of the letter HERE.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Co-Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, released a statement today on the announcement by cybersecurity firm FireEye that it was the victim of hackers tied to a nation-state:

“The hack of a premier cybersecurity firm demonstrates that even the most sophisticated companies are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“I applaud FireEye for quickly going public with this news, and I hope the company’s decision to disclose this intrusion serves as an example to others facing similar intrusions.

“We have come to expect and demand that companies take real steps to secure their systems, but this case also shows the difficulty of stopping determined nation-state hackers. As we have with critical infrastructure, we have to rethink the kind of cyber assistance the government provides to American companies in key sectors on which we all rely.”

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WASHINGTON Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement regarding the challenge posed to the United States by the Chinese government and Communist Party:

“We agree with DNI Ratcliffe that China poses the greatest national security threat to the United States. Our intelligence is clear: the Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to exert its global dominance.

“Beijing’s infiltration of U.S. society has been deliberate and insidious as they use every instrument of influence available to accelerate their rise at America’s expense.

“Our democratic values are threatened by China’s attempts to supplant American leadership and remake the international community in their image. The Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian leaders seek to threaten our free speech, politics, technology, economy, military, and even our drive to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, the United States’ challenge with China is not unique as Beijing seeks to infiltrate and subvert other nations around the world, including our allies.

“This is our watershed moment and we must stand our ground. The United States must not and cannot accept Beijing’s quest to exert dominance, while dismissing international legal norms and committing egregious human rights abuses to further their goals.

“We have made considerable progress in rebalancing the U.S.-China relationship and laying a clear marker for U.S. policy going forward, and we will not stand idly by as the Chinese Communist Party attempts to undermine our economic and national security.

“The message to Beijing and the world is that China’s behavior will not be tolerated and will be contested by democratic values, in close partnership with our allies and partners.”

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter urging General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy to immediately recognize former Vice President Joe Biden as President-elect and Senator Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect. In his letter, the Vice Chairman warned that continued delay of a smooth transfer of power will put national security at risk. 

In his letter, Vice Chairman Warner noted, “As the 9/11 Commission report highlighted, avoiding disruption in national security policymaking between administrations is critical to prepare for an uncertain threat environment. President-elect Biden and his transition team should already be receiving classified briefings that will prepare them to protect our country immediately upon taking office. Their ability to respond appropriately to any threats early in his term depends on the knowledge and perspective that these briefings provide.”

“Additionally, President-elect Biden’s transition team must immediately have access to the career professionals in all federal agencies to understand the current challenges they face. This access is especially important in the Intelligence Community, where public information about the current activities of the agencies is not available,” Warner added.

“Finally, the delay in ascertaining President-elect Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election impedes conducting background investigations to vet personnel for high-level positions in the new administration. This may unnecessarily slow confirmation of officials like the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vital positions in the effort to protect our country from foreign threats,” continued Warner. “There is no plausible reason for you to continue to delay in making this ascertainment. Further delay will damage our national security, and I urge you to proceed with this common sense step immediately.”

Text of the letter is available here and below.

 

Dear Administrator Murphy,

As Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am acutely aware of the threats facing our nation and the critical importance of an effective and smooth transfer of power in addressing them. Therefore, I urge you again to immediately ascertain President-elect Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election so that he can most effectively protect our nation once he takes office on January 20th. 

As I have indicated to you before, your continued delay in making this ascertainment will do real harm to our national security. As the 9/11 Commission report highlighted, avoiding disruption in national security policymaking between administrations is critical to prepare for an uncertain threat environment. President-elect Biden and his transition team should already be receiving classified briefings that will prepare them to protect our country immediately upon taking office. Their ability to respond appropriately to any threats early in his term depends on the knowledge and perspective that these briefings provide. 

Additionally, President-elect Biden’s transition team must immediately have access to the career professionals in all federal agencies to understand the current challenges they face. This access is especially important in the Intelligence Community, where public information about the current activities of the agencies is not available.

Finally, the delay in ascertaining President-elect Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election impedes conducting background investigations to vet personnel for high-level positions in the new administration. This may unnecessarily slow confirmation of officials like the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vital positions in the effort to protect our country from foreign threats.

There is no plausible reason for you to continue to delay in making this ascertainment. Further delay will damage our national security, and I urge you to proceed with this common sense step immediately.

Sincerely,

Mark R. Warner

U.S. Senator

 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after it was announced that President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Avril Haines as the Director of National Intelligence:

“Avril is smart and capable, with a background that will serve her well as Director of National Intelligence. While I expect that she will face rigorous questioning from Senators on both sides of the aisle, the sooner we can get a confirmed DNI in place to start fixing the damage the last four years have done to our intelligence agencies, the better.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement today following the President’s firing of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher C. Krebs:

“Chris Krebs is an extraordinary public servant and exactly the person Americans want protecting the security of our elections.

“It speaks volumes that the president chose to fire him simply for telling the truth.”

Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, has previously cautioned about the dangers of destabilizing the government by ousting key officials amid a transition of Presidential power. Just last week, he reacted to reports that Director Krebs expected to be fired by the President, noting that there is “no possible justification to remove him from office.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) applauded congressional passage of their bipartisan legislation to require minimum security requirements for Internet of Things (IoT) devices purchased by the U.S. government. Leveraging the purchasing power of the federal government, the bill will ultimately help move the wider market for IoT devices towards greater cybersecurity. The Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act passed through the U.S. House of Representatives in September and was approved in the Senate today by unanimous consent. It now heads to the President’s desk for signature.

“While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m proud that Congress was able to come together today to pass this legislation, which will harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the devices they create and sell. I urge the President to sign this bill into law without delay.” 

“I applaud the Senate for passing our bipartisan and bicameral legislation to ensure the federal government leads by example and purchases devices that meet basic requirements to prevent hackers from accessing government systems,” said Sen. Gardner. “Most experts expect tens of billions of devices operating on our networks within the next several years as the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape continues to expand. We need to make sure these devices are secure from malicious cyber-attacks as they continue to transform our society and add countless new entry points into our networks, particularly when they are integrated into the federal government’s networks.” 

Sens. Warner and Gardner originally authored and introduced this legislation in the Senate back in August 2017. They reintroduced the bill in the 116th Congress and saw its passage through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June 2019. 

Specifically, the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act would:

  • Require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue recommendations addressing, at a minimum, secure development, identity management, patching, and configuration management for IoT devices.
  • Direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidelines for each agency that are consistent with the NIST recommendations, including making any necessary revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement new security standards and guidelines.
  • Require any IoT devices  purchased by the federal government to comply with those recommendations.
  • Direct NIST to work with cybersecurity researchers, industry experts, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publish guidelines on vulnerability disclosure and remediation for federal information systems. 
  • Require contractors and vendors providing information systems to the U.S. government to adopt coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies, so that if a vulnerability is uncovered, that can be effectively shared with a vendor for remediation.

Sens. Warner and Gardner are co-chairs of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus. Sen. Warner – a former technology entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – is also leader in Congress on security issues related to the Internet of Things. 

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Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement following the announcement made by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray regarding threats from adversaries to U.S. election systems and infrastructure:

“Yesterday, DNI Ratcliffe and FBI Director Wray took an extraordinary step to ensure Americans have clear insight into the efforts of our adversaries to undermine our democratic institutions, including U.S. election systems and infrastructure. It is clear that Iran is now actively seeking to sow dissent and divide us, much like Russia did in 2016 and continues to do today.

“To the American people and the media, we reiterate the need to be skeptical of sensationalist, last-minute claims about election infrastructure. State, local, and federal officials, and partners in social media and tech, should be proud of joint efforts to shut down Iranian and Russian efforts.

“To our adversaries, we reiterate DNI Ratcliffe’s warning against interfering in America’s electoral process. Republicans and Democrats are united when we say that continued attempts to sow dissent, cast doubt on election results, or disrupt our election systems and infrastructure will necessitate a severe response.”

Related:

 

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Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement regarding threats from adversaries to U.S. election systems and infrastructure:

“Our adversaries abroad seek to sow chaos and undermine voters’ belief in our democratic institutions, including the election systems and infrastructure that we rely on to record and properly report expressions of the voters’ will. They may seek to target those systems, or simply leave the impression that they have altered or manipulated those systems, in order to undermine their credibility and our confidence in them.

“As we enter the last weeks before the election, we urge every American – including members of the media – to be cautious about believing or spreading unverified, sensational claims related to votes and voting. State and local election officials are in regular contact with federal law enforcement and cyber security professionals, and they are all working around the clock to ensure that Election 2020 is safe, secure, and free from outside interference.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released a statement today after Facebook announced it will ban QAnon accounts, pages and groups from its platforms:

“I’m pleased to see Facebook take action against this harmful and increasingly dangerous conspiracy theory and movement. Just this morning I encouraged the company to take the threat of QAnon more seriously, given increasing evidence that its growth has in large part been propelled by Facebook. Ultimately the real test will be whether Facebook actually takes measures to enforce these new policies – we’ve seen in a myriad of other contexts, including with respect to right-wing militias like the Boogaloos, that Facebook has repeatedly failed to consistently enforce its existing policies.”

Over the summer, under pressure from Sen. Warner and his colleagues, Facebook announced it would ban the violent, right-wing extremist ‘Boogaloo’ network from its platform.

And today, Sen. Warner urged Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, to implement robust accountability and transparency standards ahead of the November election, including requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act – bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Warner to help prevent foreign interference in elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged Facebook, Twitter, and Google to implement robust accountability and transparency standards ahead of the November election, including requirements outlined in the Honest Ads Act – bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Warner to help prevent foreign interference in elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. 

In individual letters to FacebookGoogle, and Twitter, Sen. Warner detailed the various ways in which each company continues to contribute to the spread of disinformation, viral misinformation, and voter suppression efforts. He also warned about the imminent risk of bad actors once again weaponizing American-bred social media tools to undermine democracy ahead of the November election, and urged each company to take proactive measures to safeguard against these efforts.

In his letter to Facebook, Sen. Warner criticized the platform’s efforts to label manipulated or synthetic content, describing these as “wholly inadequate.” He also raised alarm with instances of Facebook’s amplification of harmful content.

“The pervasiveness of political misinformation on Facebook – and the ways in which your company chooses to amplify it – was on display just this week, when a baseless conspiracy about Vice President Biden was highlighted on Facebook’s own News Tab, a result of Facebook choosing to amplify The Daily Caller as a verified news publisher and fact-checker despite its long track record of promoting false information,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “More broadly, Facebook has repeatedly failed to ensure that its existing policies on political advertising are being enforced– an issue that my colleagues and I recently raised in a separate context relating to Facebook’s failure to enforce its policies against violent far-right organizations.  Facebook has long been accused of facilitating divisive advertisements from dark money groups.  A recent report by Avaaz revealed that despite Facebook’s claims to prohibit false and misleading information in ads by outside political groups, it allowed hundreds of such ads in key swing states earlier this month to be run by super PACs.  And despite your personal pledge to stamp out voter suppression efforts on Facebook, a recent report by ProPublica revealed that voting misinformation continues to flourish on Facebook.”

Similarly, in a letter to Google, Sen. Warner raised concern with the company’s efforts to combat harmful misinformation – particularly disinformation about voting, spread by right-leaning YouTube channels. He also criticized the comprehensiveness of Google’s ad archive, which presently excludes issue ads.

“Concerns with the comprehensiveness of Google’s archive extend beyond simply Google’s under-inclusive policies. Prominent researchers have identified multiple glaring examples where qualifying political advertisers have been omitted from the ad archive… Moreover, a marketer recently demonstrated how easy it is to circumvent Google’s verification systems for political ads – running a series of search ads, targeted to run alongside election-related search queries, that attacked Presidential candidates without being included in Google’s ads database or being accompanied by a disclaimer,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Further, researchers found a particularly egregious example of election disinformation – spread via Google search ads – that ostensibly targeted to users looking for information about voter fraud.  The ad would not appear in Google’s ad archive, given its exclusion of issue ads; moreover, the ad clearly violated ad policies relating to “claims that are demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” The same researchers have found similar ads promoting false information about the election  – ostensibly indicating a systemic failure by Google in enforcing its advertising policies.” 

In his letter to Twitter, which has banned paid political content and placed restrictions on cause-based advertising, Sen. Warner noted that doctored political content continues to spread organically without adequate labeling that slows its spread or contextualizes it for users. 

“I ask that Twitter examine and strengthen its synthetic and manipulated media policy as it applies to political misinformation – particularly in the context of organic content,” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “I appreciate the leadership Twitter has demonstrated to take steps against the promotion of false, deceptive, and manipulated political content; however, more must be done to secure our political discourse from disinformation on digital platforms like yours. Under your company’s existing policy, manipulated media has still reached millions of users with only limited response from your platform. 

In all three letters, Sen. Warner urged the companies to reinforce their efforts against abuse of paid and organic content policies, and to more aggressively identify, label, and remove manipulated or synthetic media to prevent efforts to amplify disinformation by Russia and other bad actors, both foreign and domestic. Sen. Warner also posed a series of different questions for each company on a number of issues, including the availability of political ad targeting information, the enforcement of companies' own policies, the adoption of a bounty to remunerate researchers who identify policy violations, and the measures being taken to slow the coordinated dissemination of deceptive, synthetic, or manipulated media.

The Honest Ads Act, as introduced by Sens. Warner, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would safeguard the integrity of American democracy by requiring large online platforms to maintain public records of advertisers who purchase political ads. It would:

  • Amend the definition of ‘electioneering communication’ in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, to include paid internet and digital advertisements.
  • Require digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. This file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Require online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

Sen. Warner has written and introduced a series of bipartisan bills designed to protect consumers and reduce the power of giant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. Among these are the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act – bipartisan legislation to require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; the Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces to trick consumers into handing over their personal data; and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act – bipartisan legislation to encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) led a bipartisan group of Senators in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to encourage the adoption of OpenRAN and other open and interoperable standards solutions by affected carriers as it works to implement the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Actlegislation championed by Sen. Warner and passed earlier this year. 

In a letter, the Senators urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to include OpenRAN and OpenRAN solutions on the list of suggested replacements for physical and virtual communications equipment, application and management software, and services. This inclusion would allow affected carriers to adopt these alternative solutions as they dispose of risky communications equipment, as outlined in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act. In addition to Sens. Warner and Rubio, this letter was signed by Sens. Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Angus S. King (I-ME).

“The inclusion of OpenRAN solutions on the list of suggested replacements could produce benefits beyond the immediate goal of securing American communications networks. Such equipment is interoperable, uses open interfaces, is not reliant on a single equipment vendor, and is easily upgradeable to new applications and uses, including 5G OpenRAN, without the need to continually replace proprietary equipment or conduct additional tower climbs,” the Senators wrote. “Moreover, this equipment will help spur innovation and create more competition and diversity in the supply chain. It is prudent that we take full advantage of this moment to prevent similar concerns from arising in the future.”

The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act was modeled on legislation Sen. Warner first cosponsored to protect American communications networks from threats presented by foreign suppliers like Huawei and ZTE. Specifically, it offers relief to reimburse smaller telecommunications providers – largely in rural areas – by reimbursing them for the costs of removing and replacing untrusted foreign equipment which presents risks to U.S. national security.

In their letter, the Senators also requested that the FCC aid in securing communications networks as expeditiously as possible by clarifying that carriers can begin replacing equipment right away, rather than needing to wait for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act be fully implemented and funded. 

A copy of the letter can be downloaded here and text is available below. 

 

Dear Chairman Pai:

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to implement the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (the “Act”), we write to urge you to include OpenRAN and other solutions that adhere to open and interoperable standards (“OpenRAN solutions”) on “the list of suggested replacements of both physical and virtual communications equipment, application and management software, and services” that the Act requires the FCC to develop. As you know, the Act directs that the list shall be technology neutral. An explicit assurance to impacted carriers that they may select OpenRAN solutions to replace covered equipment would support other potential benefits, including easing subsequent updates to “future proof” networks. This guarantee may also stretch federal dollars further, as OpenRAN offers the possibility of cost savings. 

Further, to aid in securing communications networks as expeditiously as possible, the FCC should make clear that equipment and services on the list of suggested replacements, including OpenRAN solutions, will be eligible for reimbursement as prescribed in the Act. The FCC should also clarify to carriers that they need not wait for the Act to be fully implemented and funded to begin the replacement process to be eligible for reimbursement if using suggested replacement equipment and services.  

The inclusion of OpenRAN solutions on the list of suggested replacements could produce benefits beyond the immediate goal of securing American communications networks. Such equipment is interoperable, uses open interfaces, is not reliant on a single equipment vendor, and is easily upgradeable to new applications and uses, including 5G OpenRAN, without the need to continually replace proprietary equipment or conduct additional tower climbs. Moreover, this equipment will help spur innovation and create more competition and diversity in the supply chain. It is prudent that we take full advantage of this moment to prevent similar concerns from arising in the future.

Accordingly, we request the FCC to explicitly allow reimbursement of affected carriers for purchases of OpenRAN solutions to replace covered equipment in their networks. We applaud the FCC’s recent Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks and laud your work to highlight the importance of OpenRAN solutions. Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to our continued work.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement:

“Our nation has a 200-year history of successful elections, followed by a peaceful transfer of power. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a briefing on election security from our nation’s top officials. We all know that the election process will look different this year, in light of COVID-19, and we may not know the results on election night. The Intelligence Community (IC) warned that, as a result, the period immediately before and after the election could be uniquely volatile. But we should continue to have faith in the state and local officials who are responsible for the conduct of our elections and the IC and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) officials who help to protect them, and make sure that all the votes are counted. 

“The President of the United States should not be aiding and abetting foreign adversaries who are working  to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the American election system.”

In February 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the third volume in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian election interference, “U.S. Government Response to Russian Activities,” which was approved on a bipartisan basis by the Republican-led Committee. That report included a series of recommendations for improving the security of our elections in the future, including:

(U) Sitting officials and candidates should use the absolute greatest amount of restraint and caution if they are considering publicly calling the validity of an upcoming election into question. Such a grave allegation can have significant national security and electoral consequences, including limiting the response options of the appropriate authorities, and exacerbating the already damaging messaging efforts of foreign intelligence services. (Page 45)

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the below statement:

“Our nation has a 200-year history of successful elections, followed by a peaceful transfer of power. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a briefing on election security from our nation’s top officials. We all know that the election process will look different this year, in light of COVID-19, and we may not know the results on election night. The Intelligence Community (IC) warned that, as a result, the period immediately before and after the election could be uniquely volatile. But we should continue to have faith in the state and local officials who are responsible for the conduct of our elections and the IC and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) officials who help to protect them, and make sure that all the votes are counted.  

“The President of the United States should not be aiding and abetting foreign adversaries who are working to sow doubts about the legitimacy of the American election system.”

In February 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the third volume in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russian election interference, “U.S. Government Response to Russian Activities,” which was approved on a bipartisan basis by the Republican-led Committee. That report included a series of recommendations for improving the security of our elections in the future, including:

(U) Sitting officials and candidates should use the absolute greatest amount of restraint and caution if they are considering publicly calling the validity of an upcoming election into question. Such a grave allegation can have significant national security and electoral consequences, including limiting the response options of the appropriate authorities, and exacerbating the already damaging messaging efforts of foreign intelligence services. (Page 45)  

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WASHINGTON - Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement regarding future briefings to the Committee from the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI):

“The Senate Intelligence Committee plays a critical role in conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community, and intelligence agencies have a legal obligation to keep Congress informed of their activities. Last month, Director Ratcliffe reaffirmed that the Senate Intelligence Committee will continue receiving briefings, including in-person, on all oversight topics – including election matters. As we have in the past, the Committee will continue to expect timely and complete information from our intelligence agencies.” 

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