Brooks Social Media Bill
Passed by House

Brooks Social Media Bill Passed by House


Legislation introduced by Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) – the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014 – was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. By expanding the membership and influence of the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group, the bill gives the private sector new opportunities to drive social media innovation in emergency preparedness and response. This is the third piece of legislation introduced by Congresswoman Brooks that has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives during her freshman term.



“Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate with each other and using it the right way can save lives when disaster strikes,” Brooks said. “This bill strengthens the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group and gives private sector innovators new opportunities to share their expertise and ideas. This is the product of more than a year of witness testimony, background research and committee outreach indicating a need for greater collaboration between the high-tech industry, non-profit organizations and federal, state and local emergency response providers. This bipartisan legislation requires the working group to file a yearly report with Congress demonstrating new strategies for using cutting edge tools to keep people safe.”


The Virtual Social Media Working Group has held meetings since 2010. By requiring the group to file a yearly report with Congress, the legislation ensures members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have an opportunity to review findings and address areas of need. It will also ensure local officials receive more information on using social media to effectively disseminate critical information.

The legislation expands the diversity of voices providing expertise and offering solutions to policy makers. In addition to the current chair of the working group – the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology – the new working group will be co-chaired by a state or local official. The bill also requires members of the working group to come from outside of government. This will include representatives of the private sector, non-profit disaster relief organizations and academia.

The updated working group is required to hold its first meeting within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation. Its yearly report must address several factors including best practices, recommendations for improving the use of social media and information sharing, and a review of the training available on using social media.

Congresswoman Brooks held her first hearing on social media and emergency preparedness and response in June of 2013. Representatives from leading tech voices such as Google, Palantir, and the Internet Association provided expert witness testimony. Learn more about this hearing here.

Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis where she focused on public safety issues. To read her emergency preparedness and response op-ed in Social Media Monthly, click here. To learn more about the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, click here.