Comment by U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Maria Olson on FARA
November 17, 2017
Free speech and a free media are central elements of all democracies.
We’re watching carefully the draft Russian law designating media outlets as foreign agents to see whether it is passed and how it is implemented.
Official Russian statements link the draft legislation to a requirement by the U.S. Department of Justice that RT register under the U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
As we have said, FARA promotes transparency without restricting or limiting expression. It requires public disclosure of certain activities and relationships through registration by “agents of foreign principals” with the Justice Department.
What it does not do: It does not target agents of foreign principals from any specific country. It does not limit publishing of materials; it only requires registration, labeling, and record-keeping.
It does not inhibit freedom of expression. It does not regulate the content of information disseminated. It does not place any limitations on the agent’s lobbying or publication of information or advocacy materials. It is neutral in its treatment of all countries.
It does not impose limits or restrictions on the receipt of foreign funding by non-governmental organizations operating in the United States. It does not impose any tax.
The registration requirements under FARA are not triggered by foreign government funding alone. Instead, registration is required for those conducting certain activities at the request of or under the direction or control of a foreign principal.