Stopping Influence Operations

State leaders must expose and shut down foreign influence operations occurring within their borders. These malicious operations are found across American life, whether it’s harassment of students and scholars on campus, illegal police stations in American cities, the flood of fentanyl across our borders, or financial flows that give foreign adversaries leverage over American institutions. Even the apps on our phones, the movies we watch, and in some cases K-12 education are influenced by foreign adversaries in ways that strain America’s social fabric. State leaders must take immediate action to stop it.

To start, transparency demands that when an individual acts as an agent of a foreign adversary or spreads propaganda for a foreign adversary, they should be registered as a foreign agent with the state Attorney General. While federal law already requires the registration of foreign agents, America’s system of federalism works best when states develop local solutions to national problems. Furthermore, federal law provides broad exemptions that allow foreign adversaries – often spies – to skirt federal transparency requirements. States must do better.

Additionally, gifts and contracts to educational institutions from adversary nations must be disclosed, and acceptance of such gifts, contracts, and partnerships should be allowed only under defined circumstances. Additional screening is a common sense solution for sensitive research, and penalties for intellectual property theft should enhanced when the theft is for the benefit of an adversary.

Finally and most importantly, states must study transnational repression, define it in their criminal codes, and provide stronger penalties for crimes that are committed in the course of transnational repression.