Earlier this month, we examined five core components of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), which is intended to preserve public and political awareness of information created to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and legislation, and identify the individuals that are proliferating such information. In this week’s edition of Downrange we will examine the filing and labeling requirements for informational materials covered under FARA (i.e., informational materials dispensed by a U.S. agent on behalf of a foreign principal).
1. Informational Material. “Informational material” covered under FARA includes printed information and information conveyed in any other medium that can be disseminated or circulated among two or more persons. For example, a personal or organizational website, a social media presence, and text messages, can all qualify as “informational materials.”
2. Filing Timeline. All covered individuals and entities that circulate or disseminate informational material among two or more persons must file two copies of the material with the Attorney General within forty-eight hours of doing so.
3. Conspicuous Statement. All informational materials transmitted on behalf a foreign principal must contain a conspicuous statement indicating that the materials are distributed by the agent on behalf of the foreign principal. The conspicuous statement must include, at a minimum, the following provision: “This material is distributed by (name of registrant) on behalf of (name of foreign principal). Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC.”
Properly displaying the conspicuous statement on a website can be accomplished by placing the required language visibly on the home page, including it as a running header or footer, or incorporating it into the website’s “About Us” page.
For social media, including Twitter, Facebook, an online forum, or a blog, the conspicuous statement can be placed on the social media access page of the agent’s website, within a Facebook or Twitter profile summary, or on the home page of an online forum or blog. If dissemination is in the form of a text message, the required statement must be made at the beginning of the message.
Similarly, any information shared with a Government agency or official on behalf or in the interests of a foreign principal must state that the U.S. person is an agent of the foreign principal.
4. Public Inspection. All information material subject to FARA can be made available by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) for public inspection.
5. Penalties. As with failure to register under FARA, failure to properly label informational materials disseminated on behalf of a foreign principal can result in criminal penalties. Willful violation of the Act is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years. In addition to criminal penalties, the Attorney General may make an application to a U.S. district court to enjoin actions covered under FARA or order compliance with a particular provision of the Act.
With enforcement on the rise, individuals and entities should carefully label informational material covered under FARA and enforce FARA compliance in their intentional contracts, as appropriate.
About the Authors
Downrange authors Jennifer S. Huber and Adam Munitz are Partners in FH+H's International Trade + Transactions Practice. Focusing primarily on the defense, security, and intelligence sectors, Jennifer and Adam help businesses translate their domestic successes into overseas growth and assist foreign entities with sensitive investments in, and acquisitions of, U.S. businesses.
Additional information regarding their capabilities and previous representations can be found here.
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