​NGOs Urge Default Transparency in Online Political Advertising

Civil society organisations push for full transparency of political ads online to avoid misleading and disguised ads, which can easily distort political preferences.

The political campaigning landscape has changed significantly with the digitalisation of our public life, which has created new opportunities for political participation, but also poses significant risks to the integrity of elections and the political debate.

The lack of transparency of which ads are shown to whom, why, and who has paid for them, further creates a situation where anyone - from a political party and interest group to a foreign advertising firm like Cambridge Analytica - can distort the political debate and easily evade public interest scrutiny.

This threatens the credibility of our electoral processes, and ultimately the legitimacy and representativeness of our democracies. Digital rights NGOs agreed that default transparency is needed in digital political advertising in order to:

  • allow for public interest scrutiny
  • overcome diverging definitions of political ads
  • verify the labelling and disclaimers of political ads
  • better understand malign actors
  • protect consumers and strengthen businesses

The partnering civic organisations also agreed that the following information should be disclosed by spender on a mandatory basis:

  • Exact spend
  • Advertiser information & identification
  • Targeting mechanism & criteria
  • Audience reached
  • Engagement and reach
  • Access to ad library
  • GDPR compliance statement

Read the full joint statement here.