House Bill Would Digitize FARA Records

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Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced a bill on Nov. 15 that would require all Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) files to be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a digital, searchable electronic format.

If enacted into law, the Foreign Agents Registration Modernization (FARM) Act of 2019 would provide a technical update to FARA. Once an individual registers as a foreign agent, the FARM Act mandates that all reports documenting international activities required by FARA are submitted in a machine-readable, searchable, and digitized format.

The FARM Act also asks the attorney general, clerk of the House, and secretary of the Senate to create a centralized online database organizing the electronic FARA files. This reporting system would be modeled after the database for domestic lobbying activities, a press release from Rep. Buck’s office explains.

Rep. Buck said in the press release that “due to loopholes in the law and an outdates filing process,” FARA files are difficult to access. The congressman added that the FARM Act would “bring the FARA filing system into the 21st century.”

The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review. The FARM Act does not appear to have a companion measure in the Senate.

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